Compensation for freelance artists in Papua New Guinea during COVID-19

Compensation for freelance artists in Papua New Guinea during COVID-19

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PNG Coalition of Freelance Artists started this petition to Prime Minister James Marape and

Compensation for freelance artists and cultural and creative workers following the closure of licensed venues and ban on gatherings of over 50 persons (COVID-19)

We the undersigned freelance artists and cultural and creative workers in Papua New Guinea are calling on the Controller David Manning, MBE, DPS, QPM, to immediately and diligently compensate us for the loss of income caused by the closure of licensed venues and immediate ban on gatherings of over 50 persons due to COVID-19.

The most recent pandemic measures released on 5th October 2020 and Pandemic Measure Number 9 (‘Business and Social Measures’) has devastating economic repercussions for self-employed workers in the local cultural and creative industries and we think Pandemic Measure Number 9 has not been done in good faith.

We all support these measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and believe that they are critical to public health. However, it is essential that the government take into account the urgent needs of freelance artists and cultural and creative workers who suffer the consequences and on whom the financial repercussions will be dramatic.

Currently, all of the contract payments promised to freelance artists for cancelled events will not be paid. In the event of force majeure or ‘Act of God’ such as this, people and organizations that pay for our services are not required to fulfill their financial obligations. Contracts are no longer valid as the events have been cancelled and no amount of money is paid to artists. The financial consequences of such a situation have immediate and also long-term repercussions. For the majority of freelance artists, we earn a regular income from live performances before patrons at licensed premises. The cancellations in progress, therefore, represent a substantial loss to our finances for the fiscal year.

Since many of us do not have access to employment insurance, our status as vulnerable freelancers place us in a very difficult and highly anxiety-provoking situation.

We reiterate that immediate government financial support that takes into account the urgent needs of freelance artists is essential. The financial consequences and repercussions of this crisis will be dramatic for us.

Many artists are already living in a precarious financial situation. Absorbing a loss of income in Papua New Guinea since 23rd March 2020 at peak season is unsustainable.

At the start of the year, Prime Minister Marape announced incentives to give a ‘helping hand’ to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). Mr. Marape also said that the government would work with the central bank and commercial banks to defer loan repayments by three months or more for those citizens, and businesses, with bank loans. We read that the government was also working to use its business stimulus fund budgeted in 2020 national budget as security to lower interest rates on business borrowings.

With this petition, we request similar incentives and pandemic measures. We also request serious policy and legislative interventions for the vulnerable self-employed artists and workers in the cultural and creative industries in Papua New Guinea.

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