Back in business: City opens freelancer haven in Brooklyn

“I love the interior design… it’s very open, I feel like it really motivates your creative flow with nice pops of color that make me feel calm and happy,” said entrepreneur Calandra Griffin, who recently moved to New York from Phoenix, and read about the space online.

The city newcomer said she was thrilled to find out how much support the city she just moved to offers its freelancers.

“It actually really motivates me and lets me know that New York is here for their freelancers, and that makes me feel good to just know that I’m appreciated and that I am important,” Griffin said.

Some freelancers told Gothamist the southern Brooklyn location was a bit out of the way, but Espinal said the city chose Industry City for its proximity to more than 90 companies in media, production, and related fields. Having a physical space to convene is crucial for freelancers to collaborate and network, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“The pandemic has really shined a light on the struggles freelance workers face because of the lack of social safety net that exists for them, because of the lack of resources that exists for them,” Espinal said. “Because you work independent doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to have similar protections to other workers. It’s important to ensure that there are no workers falling through the cracks.”

The Freelancers Hub is part of a continued effort by the city to support the city’s growing freelancer workforce, which in 2019 made up around one-third of the city’s total workforce according to a report by MOME. That study also found that 60% of the city’s media workforce operates as freelancers – an industry that the hub is specifically set up to cater to, complete with photo studio spaces, editing software and skills courses.

“Freelancers are such a critical component of our creativity, our nightlife, our arts and entertainment,” MOME Commissioner Anne del Castillo said. “This new hub provides a true space for them to convene, to work, to network, and gain access to a variety of resources that will not only help them succeed, but continue to push New York City’s reputation as a center for innovation and creativity.“

In 2017, the city passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which established and enhanced protections for freelance workers.