Help for freelancers in art, music urged

Christopher de Venecia
 Pangasinan, 4th District Rep. Christopher de Venecia.

PANGASINAN Rep. Christopher de Venecia called on the government to include freelancers in arts and music in the list of people to be given financial assistance.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated the already deplorable conditions of the freelance workers of the gig industry, De Venecia pointed out.

He lamented that many freelancers are now jobless due to the nature of their work which makes impractical social distancing required under quarantine rules and policies.

Even before the onset of COVID-9 pandemic, De Venecia had already filed House Bill 3951, the Freelance Protection Act that seeks to provide hazard pay and night-shift differential to freelance artists.

“These freelancers, whether in music production, film, photography, visual arts, fashion, culinary arts, television, animation, literary arts, jewelry design, and many others, are tireless, passionate, and work incredibly hard to perfect their craft, deliver on their commitments to their clients with utmost professionalism, and strive so hard to make ends meet for themselves and their families. They go from paycheck to paycheck and have managed to survive before the ECQ, percolating concentric, complex, and hyphenated industries that power our creative economy,” he said.

The survey conducted last April 30 by the League of Event & Activation Agencies of the Philippines (LEAP) among its stakeholders, revealed that last year the live events sector that stages corporate and lifestyle events, media launches, concert production, conventions and expos, fashion and sporting events, has contributed an estimated P97 billion to an overall total of P200 billion generated by the so-called creative economy.”

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) also noted that the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) estimated that the income generated by creative industries (both core and none-core copyright-based) is at P689 billion.

“The cinema sector alone, according to FDCP Chairperson Liza DiñoSeguerra, generated approximately P11.5 billion in gross box office revenues, while P3.65 billion was generated in audiovisual and related services in 2018.

The National Live Events Coalition PH states that by the end of the year, over P130 billion of gross revenue from the live events sector would have been lost due to COVID-19. 

They likewise project that the pandemic will affect more than 284,000 individuals who earn their income from live events, including workers and talents from the music industry.

This data excludes the TV and Film sector, which will also be adversely impacted by the “new normal”.

De Venecia said that after this pandemic, “we have a unique opportunity to recreate society with business 'unusual' – a society where our knowledge economy, our freelancers, and our creative industries are finally at the forefront.”