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Stephen

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https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com

It is nice to take victory lap if when a crisis hits you are prepared and able to weather the crisis because of good planning or good luck but for those of you that need help to get through this crisis Don't feel like the situation is hopeless, be sure and explore the programs that will be rolled out to help artist over the next few weeks. There may be outright grants available and/or low and zero interest loans and it may make a great deal of sense for some to take advantage of one of these to weather the crisis and still be in business on the other side of this. Businesses often tap into these programs after an unforseen crisis and it is not remotely foolish to explore these options. All of these programs will have limited dough and will often prioritise the early apps so if this is shaping up to be crippling to what was/is a promising business start researching now.

Edited by Stephen

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Ok folks. I'm going to need to ask for everyone's help on this. I am a Canadian, and I have no idea what is available for resources for all my American friends. I'd like to put a call out to anyone anywhere who has a line on things being offered by your respective governments to please help out our community by posting them here. We really do get a lot of lurkers who don't ever make a post, but read everything we write, so this really is something we can do to help each other. The Canadian government will be making announcements with the Federal budget later this week, and I expect we'll have more information then. I'll post on it as I can: my province's schools and daycares and out of school programs have all been closed indefinitely, so  I have a couple of artist kids that now need herding.

 

My thoughts are that going into debt of any kind when your prospects for earnings are uncertain is best avoided, whether it's Visa or the bank or the government or an NGO offering the loan. Speaking from personal experience, it takes a long time, a lot of very hard work and a long streak of good luck where absolutely nothing at all goes wrong  to get that kind of debt paid off, no matter the interest rate. It made the stress of a situation that lasted only half a year last for several years longer. Loans may be a tool, but not a good one in this instance in my opinion. They tend to benefit the lender far more than they ever will you. Loans of this nature are essentially taking advantage of your misfortune. But there are more tools than just borrowing. If grants or tax exemptions/deferrals become available, use the heck out of them! Any kind of Employment Insurance programs that you may have access to are also a big help: it's insurance, you've paid into it fair and square with your taxes,  now you have the right to claim it. Is your community banding together to promote the delivery of locally made goods? Excellent! Tap that however you can.

It can be very difficult to do, but I think it's important for people to stay flexible in their thinking and not panic because of the short term. Panic will kill your business. Perhaps a business restructure may be in order in order to weather lean times so that you can be well placed when this crisis ends, because end it will. For a sole proprietor, that looks different than with a larger business. Maybe you put things online that you normally wouldn't because people will be shopping from home in the next little while. Maybe you emphasize in your newsletter that you're making sure you've run all their orders through the sterilizing cycle in the dishwasher before wrapping and shipping. Perhaps you offer gift certificates for sale right now, so that people can choose their cousin's wedding gift that they'll need in the fall later. Maybe you offer a limited run of customizable (not bespoke!) items for those healthy people who are now working from home and are nesting a bit. Get together with your show or online community and promote each other. We are lucky in that our industry tends to have low overhead and our stock doesn't get stale. Slowing down or taking a pause isn't a shameful thing either. Do what is best for your long term situation now.

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Each state has its own programs and relief, just keep an eye on your local news for things you may qualify for.

Small business owners (sole proprietor) don't qualify for unemployment in my state, nor paid sick or family leave.  Luckily I have a job so I qualify for all three, but feel bad for the full time artists getting the shaft.  

Now that theyve shut down all restaurants and bars here in Washington I feel like it's only a matter of time before I'm forced home as well.  Stay sane people!

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I'd also like to encourage you to not feel guilt for having access to things that others might not. Everyone's situation will be different. I don't have access to EI because it's not structured particularly well for small business owners here either.  Mostly I'm going to have to dig myself out, unless something useful comes down from the feds this week. But all those other options, and ones I haven't thought of yet are still available. If anyone wants to share strategies, those are also resources.

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