Freelancers rally as creative industry suffers $23m hit from Covid-19
Freelance photographer Lim Yong Teck, 30, had high hopes even as the outbreak grew.
He had been hired to shoot the Tokyo Olympics for an international news agency, and it came as a big blow when the Games were postponed for a year.
Mr Lim told The New Paper: "It was a big break. Now I have virtually no income and am looking at part-time jobs. Whatever work comes, I'll gladly take it."
He is one of an estimated 1,800 creative professionals whose livelihoods have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.This is according to the website ilostmygig.sg, launched on Monday to crowdsource information about losses made by those in the media, arts, design and entertainment sectors, many of whom are freelancers or small business owners.
As of yesterday, the website estimated more than $23 million in income had been lost over the more than 6,000 projects being cancelled or postponed.
Mr Keith Tan, 38, who spearheaded the website with five others, said it was inspired by similar ones that sprung up in Austin, Texas, after the South by Southwest festival was cancelled, and in Australia.
"If people don't know what the bleed is, they don't know how to help," he said, adding that checks are done to ensure the numbers are not false or unreasonable.
The website also includes a page for people to offer jobs or financial support and a page that leads to government schemes and trade organisations.
Said Mr Tan: "The aim is not to find someone to foot the bill. It is to present information that people can rally support around. The awesome thing is, people have already reached out."
For Mr Nicholas Chee, 41, a media consultant who helped with the website, the outbreak will cost him $50,000 or more.
One submission to the website cited loss of a $1 million multi-year retainer.
A silver lining is that the industry is banding together and self-organising, said Mr Chee, who set up a 4,000-member Facebook support group last month.
The Government earlier announced a $36 million Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme, which gives a $7.50 an hour allowance to Singaporean and permanent resident freelancers undergoing eligible SkillsFuture courses in the next three months.
The National Trades Union Congress yesterday said it has set aside an extra $4 million for union members to claim higher allowances.
With Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat set to announce a second set of relief measures today, Mr Chee said he hopes the Government can also help revitalise the creative industry.
He added: "Most freelance professionals are in favour of work as opposed to handouts."