New hub at the Made in NY Media Center #inBrooklyn will provide free workshops, networking space, training, legal clinics, benefits assistance, and tax and financial guidance to independent workers in the media and entertainment sectors
First concerted effort by an American city to create a central resource hub for freelance workers in the gig economy
Freelancers Union to operate new hub, continuing its pioneering efforts to provide advocacy and benefits for the nation's 57.3 million freelancers
NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin, in partnership with the Freelancers Union and the Independent Filmmakers Project, today announced the creation of the 'Freelancers Hub at the Made in NY Media Center,' in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The hub will provide free networking space, services, and assistance to independent workers in the creative sectors.
The Freelancers Hub will be based at the Made in NY Media Center, 30 John Street, Brooklyn, and will offer:
"With more than a third of our workforce operating as freelancers, NYC's economy depends on independent workers – that's why we have their backs," said Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development. "With the workers protections in the Freelance Isn't Free Act and the establishment of the Freelancers Hub, we're creating a national model for how cities can support workers in the freelance economy."
The Freelancers Hub will be operated by Freelancers Union, and supported by the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, in partnership with IFP. Information about the offerings of the Freelancers Hub will be available at www.freelancershub.nyc.
"Workers in the media and entertainment sectors have been operating in the 'gig' economy for decades," said Julie Menin, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. "We're extremely proud that The Freelancers Hub at the Made in NY Media Center will make New York the first city in the country to provide direct services and support to independent workers in the creative industries, demonstrating how cities and governments can help workers flourish and grow their business while maintaining the independence and flexibility that comes with freelance work."
The growth of the 'gig economy' has brought flexibility and autonomy for independent workers—but it has also raised questions of job stability, legal certainty, steady payment, financial security, and access to healthcare and other benefits to the nearly two out of every five (38%) workers in New York City who are freelancers. Seventy-two percent of the complaints that Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) received in the first year of the Freelance Isn't Free Act were from workers in the arts and entertainment sectors—from filmmakers and designers to producers, engineers, artists, technologists, writers, journalists, composers, and performers. According to DCA data, at least 400,000 in the five boroughs are full-time freelancers. In the greater metropolitan area, the Freelancers Union estimates that up to four million people participate in independent work—a number that is rising with transformations across the economy.
"Freelancers Union is honored to be launching Freelancers Hub, which builds upon our work organizing our members to create innovative solutions for the independent workforce," said Caitlin Pearce, Executive Director of Freelancers Union. "Too many freelancers in New York City struggle with issues ranging from nonpayment to difficulty accessing health insurance, and they need a network to help their business thrive. We're grateful that the City of New York has recognized the need to provide resources to better serve this growing population of workers, and we hope Freelancers Hub can serve as a model for cities across the country.
As the gig economy grows and more workers join the independent workforce—currently 57.3 million Americans who provide $1.4 trillion to the US economy annually—the Freelancers Hub provides a model for how the public sector can begin to support gig workers. At least one out of every five freelancers are uninsured, while 34% don't know where to obtain information about insurance and benefits. The average freelancer faces non-payment or late-payment of nearly $6,000 every year, and workers often take on high levels of debt to get by during work 'droughts'. Moreover, freelancers do not receive the skill development and financial management assistance that often comes from full-time employment.
"This new hub is the perfect complement to the City's Freelance Isn't Free Act—the first law of its kind in the country—which establishes several protections like the right to a contract and timely payment for freelance workers," said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. "DCA is proud to protect the city's growing freelancer community, which plays such a crucial role in the economic vitality of our city. We applaud the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for creating of this much-needed resource and look forward to working together to educate the community that will flock to this hub about their rights."
The Freelancers Hub will fill many of these gaps with information about benefits, targeted upskilling and management training in areas of relevance to freelancers in the media and entertainment industries, legal clinics, and know-your-rights seminars on the City's Freelance Isn't Free Act, championed by Freelancers Union and signed by Mayor de Blasio in 2017. The Freelancers Hub will also produce a report on the state of freelancing within the five boroughs, filling a gap in the data on independent work in New York City, and building upon the 'Freelancing in America' study commissioned annually by Freelancers Union and Upwork.
"As long-time champions of creatives in pursuit of achieving their career goals, we are delighted to welcome Freelancers Union and partner in the development of a centralized hub that can support our community at large," said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of The IFP and Made in NY Media Center. "We are so happy to continue to partner with MOME on Media Center programming and events." "The creative economy is largely made up of freelancers, and I have the great pleasure to have a district filled with freelancers and creatives. This new Freelancers Hub will do wonders for my district and for all New Yorkers. Freelancers have been regularly burdened by high health insurance costs and limited access to benefits. I am hopeful that the hub will serve as an incredible asset to New York's freelancers," said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol.
"In order for New York City's creative talent to thrive, we must provide the tools and resources to protect and support our freelance workers," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "Building on the Freelance Isn't Free worker protections passed by the Council, this initiative demonstrates New York City's commitment to protect workers as the share of gig economy employment continues to grow. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin for their work fighting for economic equity for all New Yorkers."