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Sheldon Gooi on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Events Industry

Sheldon Gooi is the owner of The Production People (TPP), an established production company based in Singapore. He also wears the hat of President of the non-profit Singapore Talent, Artistes and Resources (STAR) association. STAR is a national body representing freelancers from the events and entertainment industry. The association aims to elevate standards, champion professional interest, and enable beneficial partnerships.

The COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc in the events segment affecting not only the production companies but the vast number of freelancers who ply their trade in this space.

Sheldon and his committee members have been engaging the association members as well as government bodies to figure out how to mitigate the situation. The Singapore Government has recently released financial help for the GIG economy players. Though it would never make up for the revenue losses, it is hoped that it will alleviate some of the difficulties faced.

ETA had a quick chat with Sheldon regarding the current situation.

ETA: How have the freelancers been affected?
Sheldon: Freelancers have been badly affected. Jobs are down at least 90%.

What are some of the measures that STAR has taken to help the freelancers?
We are in constant communication with the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) Freelance and Self-Employed Unit, and the announced measures to provide training allowance to Self-Employed Persons is welcome.

The more recent second budget announcement also offers financial help which I believe will relieve to some extent the stress faced by freelancers.

What is the key takeaway from this situation for freelancers?
Have preparation for a rainy day. Have proper contracting practices so their rights can be protected. This is unprecedented, and the whole events eco-system is affected, but some are better prepared than others.

Is there any way for companies who use freelancers able to help them at this moment?
As I mentioned, this is an eco-system. Everyone is hit hard. Companies should not use this situation to take advantage of the freelancers. Where compensation has been paid, some of that should be passed down to the freelancers as well.

As the owner of TPP, how much of the events business has been affected in Singapore in terms of percentage?
It is as much as 95%.

What stop-gap measures you think the industry needs to take to ride this situation?
The factors are external, nothing much the industry can do at the moment.

Again what are the key takeaways for the rental & staging companies from this situation?Contingency is important.

Are you able to share what is TPP doing to mitigate the situation at the moment?
We are talking to the banks to use the Government measures to help us with cash-flow. We are also sending our people for training, and also organising our own product familiarisation open days.

Are manufacturers being flexible with regards to equipment purchased?
We have appealed, and getting good response so far.

Any other comment you would like to add?
Importantly, everyone needs to know this is temporary. Think long term, deal with the cash crunch, but also prepare for rebound. This will come back stronger than before.

This interview first appeared in the ETA April 2020 issue. You can read the rest of our coverage here.