Here’s A Recap of April 7th’s Panel “COVID-19: Impact, Resources, and Hope For The GA Entertainment Industry.

By: Briana Franklin

This past Tuesday marks Georgia Production Partnership’s first virtual membership meeting and as the organization plans the first of many for the upcoming months. Tuesday April 7th’s meeting was streamed over Facebook, Youtube, and on the GPP website with Peter Stathopoulos, GPP Government Relations Chair, as our moderator speaking with our GPP Lobbyist, Lewis Massey, Lee Thomas and Allen Fox from the GA Film Office, Alduan Tartt, Celebrity Psychologist, and Molly Coffee, Executive Director Film Impact GA.

If you missed the stream don’t worry the meeting has been posted on the GPP Facebook page and Youtube channel so you’re able to get the resources provided by moderator Peter Stathoupolus and Allen Fox from the GA Film Office. They discuss recently rolled out programs to help COVID-19 affected businesses and workers, not forgetting 1099 and gig workers who may not be able to follow the traditional route to receive unemployment.

See slides below:

April-COVID19-Resource-Guide

Molly Coffee talks about access to resources to uplift creatives during this time by reminding us to “take advantage of opportunity in crisis.” There are platforms offering access to resources like Sundance Collab opening up their online master classes for free and Film Impact GA having a #AskAPro Live with Angela Barnes Gomes, Director of Atlanta’s Soul Train TV series. 

Dr. Tartt offers tips for Reducing Anxiety During COVID-19, suggestions that for many will help with maintaining a healthy routine during the stay-at-home order. “It’s more important than anything to practice self care during this time.” For those who are natural list checkers and need a daily routine to stay balanced, “finding your purpose will keep you grounded.” So whether it’s taking a walk in the morning to get a dose of nature or repurposing those skills you’ve lost sight of in the next few weeks, maintaining a self curated schedule for what works best for you will be key. 

See his presentation below:

The-5-tips-For-Reducing-Anxiety-During-A-Pandemic-GPP

Link to the Live stream below:

Loans designed specifically to protect the employees in a time of crisis.

by: Peter Stathapoulos

The below points are a summary put together by GPP’s Government Relations Chair, Peter Stathapoulos and detail the qualifications for the new program provided by the Small Business Administration. We’ve seen many companies resort to layoffs and furloughs because of halted revenue streams. With options like the one explained in this program employers of small businesses may apply for forgivable loans to substitute this loss.

The Following Will Apply:

  • Subject to exceptions for the hotel industry, small (less than 500 employees at one location) employers may apply for forgivable loans up to 2 times average monthly payroll costs from 2019, up to $100,000 of payroll costs per employee
  • Loans are non-recourse (bank can’t try to collect from owners of business) and require no collateral and no application fees
  • Loans are forgivable to extent that the money is spent on qualified costs during the covered period (February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020) and employer maintains 2019 average payroll levels
  • Loan proceeds can be used on payroll, rent, mortgage and other preexisting debt, and utilities
  • Up to 100% of loan principal can be forgiven
  • Remainder is payable at 0.5% interest and a term of up to 10 years
  • There is an automatic forbearance on loan payments during the first six months of the loan
  • Program is available to non-profits
  • The loan can also be claimed by self-employed individuals and sole proprietorships; not clear whether payments to independent contractors count as payroll costs
  • Loan applications for traditional employers go live April 3, 2020
  • Further guidance and loan applications for sole proprietorships go live April 10, 2020

Takaways:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program SBA loan applications go live with lenders April 3rd for traditional employers.  Loan applications and further guidance regarding sole proprietors will be issued on April 10, 2020 by Treasury and SBA.
  2. Many accounting firms are assisting their clients with these applications and with loan forgiveness calculations and documentation.  Members should check with their accounting firms for help.

https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2020/03/11/what-freelancers-need-to-know-about-coronavirus/

This post was first published on March 11, 2020, and updated March 25, 2020. It will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

With cities across the country shutting down to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every industry is feeling the pinch.

Government relief programs for freelancers

As policies are changing daily, your best bet to stay up to date on relief efforts in your area is to follow the local news (and call your representatives to demand they include freelancers in their work!). Here’s an incomplete list of the changes that have been made so far:

Tax filing deferredThe new federal deadline for tax filing and the first quarterly payment of the year is now July 15. State tax deadlines are up to their discretion, so make sure to double-check before you assume you’re off the hook on April 15.

Health insurance updates: In a number of states, including New York and California, the enrollment period has been reopened so you can buy health insurance on the marketplace for a limited time. In addition, many insurers (including EmblemHealth and Oscar, our partners in NY) are covering the costs of COVID-19 screening and tests, so if you’re feeling sick, you won’t pay out of pocket to get tested.

Evictions halted: Falling behind on rent or mortgage payments shouldn’t be another source of worry right now. Many cities have suspended all eviction proceedings, and the federal government has instructed HUD to do the same. If you live in a HUD property or have a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Authority, you’re safe from eviction and foreclosure right now.

Paid sick leave passedAmong the emergency measures signed into law so far is an act that extends paid sick leave and paid family leave to small business owners and freelancers, which can be claimed as a credit on your taxes. Get the details here.

Aid programs available: If you experience a loss of income, the federally funded LIHEAP program can help with your utility bills. And be sure to check out this crowdfunded list of resources for freelance artists, including emergency grants, job postings, and more.

In New York City, if your work schedule has been reduced and you are unable to pay your rent, you can apply for a Cash Assistance special grant to get benefits for emergencies. Apply online here.

And be sure to check out these crowdsourced resource guides for lots more info on grants, free workshops, and mutual aid programs:

Gig Workers Collective’s COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Freelance Artists Resources

Get Involved

Here are two actions you can take to help support your fellow freelancers now:

1. Call your city and state representatives to demand they include freelancers in all relief programs. Freelancers Union is pushing to ensure that any financial safety nets that are implemented in this moment of economic crisis include freelancers. Our plan comprises the following:

  1. Establish a temporary emergency measure to provide zero-interest loans to small businesses, including freelancers.
  2. Establish disaster unemployment assistance programs that include all working freelancers and self-employed workers who have lost income due to the impacts of COVID-19.
  3. Institute tax breaks and deferments of tax payments for self-employed individuals.

2. Take our survey. We’re collecting information on how the coronavirus has impacted freelancers. Please take two minutes to fill out our survey about how you’re being affected by the pandemic! Your responses will help guide our advocacy and relief work.

Stay safe

Stock up. In addition to must-haves like breakfast cereal and wine, think about the things you need to get your work done. Shipping supplies? Printer paper? Whatever it is, try to have at least a two-week supply on hand.

Stay home. Social distancing is the best way to contain the spread of the virus, and many cities are implementing policies that ban public gatherings, close restaurants, bars, and event spaces, and even require all nonessential activity be ceased. If you absolutely need to leave the house, stay 6 feet away from others, wash your hands thoroughly, and don’t touch your face.

Upgrade your space. Have you been considering boosting your internet service? Getting a bigger monitor for your desk? If your budget can handle it, now’s a good time to make your home office more comfortable. You’ll be spending a lot more time here for the foreseeable future.

Keep learning. If your business is impacted, use the downtime to take on a big project you haven’t been able to find the time for—whether that’s mastering SEO or learning to knit. It doesn’t have to be professionally productive (though we always respect the hustle!), as long as it’s satisfying to you and keeps your brain engaged. And who knows? You might find a whole new revenue stream while you’re at it!

Be kind to yourself. For many freelancers, working from home is business as usual. But if you’re used to coworking or working from an office, the shift can feel isolating. Check out our tips for making the most of this time, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not as productive as usual for a while.

Get creative. There’s no telling at this point how long this outbreak will last, so if you’ve got appointments or events on your calendar for the next few months, now’s the time to figure out how to make them happen virtually. Fitness instructor? Offer one-on-one FaceTime training sessions. Business consultant? Turn your workshops into Zoom meetings.

A few updates on federal, state and local response to COVID-19.  

  • Statewide: Last night, Gov. Kemp held a press conference announcing a series of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus and support Georgians in need, including:
    • Closure of all bars and nightclubs, and banning all gatherings of ten or more people unless you can maintain at least six feet between people at all times. It also empowers the Department of Public Health to close any business, establishment, non-profit, or organization for noncompliance.
    • An order for isolation, quarantine, or shelter in place that covers those who live in a long-term care facility, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19
    • Allowing temporary licensure for graduate student nurses and those whose licenses have expired in the last five years.
    • Extending Georgia’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 in accordance with the new federal tax filing deadline
    • Increasing SNAP benefits for families and the elderly

Read the full transcript here, and click here to see all executive orders. The order went into effect today at noon, and stands until April 6. For the AJC coverage of the order, click here.   

  • Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday night that she signed a 14-day order directing Atlanta residents to stay inside their homes, except when performing essential activities (tasks ensuring health and safety, obtaining necessary services and supplies) or working in essential businesses.  All non-essential businesses must cease activity at facilities in Atlanta, except for minimum basic operations.  Teleworking for non-essential businesses is allowed. The exemptions to the order include essential city services and businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, laundromats, parks, the Atlanta BeltLine and restaurants serving takeout. Residents may go outdoors, to parks and on the beltline but social distancing of at least 6 ft must be maintained.   The order also prohibits public and private gatherings outside of your primary household.  Read the full order with specific definitions here
  • Savannah: This morning, Mayor Van Johnson issued an amended emergency declaration, ordering people to shelter at home and increasing restrictions on businesses. Only essential businesses will remain open, and  restaurants can only provide carry out and delivery orders. City government offices remain open but are limited to the public. Shared facilities, including hotels and motels, must practice social distancing and follow CDC cleaning guidelines. The order also prohibits public and private gatherings outside of your primary household.  Read the full order with specific definitions here