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Museum Freelance Network conference - Photo by Chris Payne
22.03.2020

Museum Freelance Network makes a call for clients to support freelance workers

Christina Lister and Marge Ainsley, Co-Founders of the Museum Freelance Network write:

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted enormously on all walks of life and has made the situation for freelancers more precarious than ever, especially with no real support forthcoming from Government.

Freelancers have already had months of work and income cancelled or postponed indefinitely, with no or very limited hope of being able to secure new work and income in the foreseeable future. A heartfelt thank you to organisations and individuals who have already reached out to the freelance community, got in touch with their freelancers and/or shared useful resources.

For those of you asking, we’ve put together a list of eight things you can do to help freelancers at this very difficult time:

1. Don’t forget us: Freelancers are an integral part of the cultural sector’s eco-system. We believe in this sector and want it to thrive as much as you do. We are your colleagues, friends, contributors. Please remember to include us in your plans, lobbying and communications.

2. Communicate with us: Keep lines of communication open. If you’re a client working with a freelancer, please be open and transparent. We know planning is difficult, circumstances are changing continuously, and you may not have the answers now, but please keep in touch.

3. Involve us: Freelancers are creative, resourceful and bring diverse perspectives to problems. Involve us in your decision-making as we may be able to help. We are a part of your community.

4. Pay us: Pay on time or even ahead of payment terms, as cashflow for freelancers is likely to be harder than normal and income levels are likely to dip substantially. If there are reasons for paying late (e.g. difficulty getting sign-off remotely), please let us know so that we can expect this.

5. Pay us fairly: Please don't put downward pressure on freelancers' rate because of the Coronvirus pandemic. A freelance day rate covers many costs such as such as pensions, training, tax, insurance as well as allowing us to build up a bit of a buffer for lean times. Please respect and value us as a core part of the sector workforce.

6. Check in on us: This is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. Freelancers don’t have regular work colleagues who can touch base with them, and a lot of their usual well-being mechanisms have disappeared (e.g. a face-to-face client meeting, working in a co-working space, a coffee shop meetup, a trip to the gym). If you can touch base with any freelancers in your network (even if you’re not currently working with them), they will really appreciate that.

7. Keep commissioning us: Times are incredibly difficult for the sector, with unprecedented pressure and some impossibly tough decisions that need to be made. But where possible, please keep commissioning us and allow us to contribute to this wonderful sector that we so adore.

8. Lobby for us: Please lobby and advocate for the sector’s self-employed, whether that’s proactively applying pressure to Government and your local MP, or simply sharing our concerns on your own communication channels. We appreciate any support you can give that helps to amplify the urgent call for more financial support for the self-employed.

You can read the whole letter or download the letter as a PDF from the Museum Freelance Network website.

Photo credit: Chris Payne [Christina Lister and Marge Ainsley at the Museum Freelance Network conference in March 2019]

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