COVID-19: Week 1

Statement from Nottingham Centre of Photography and Social Engagement

We are at the start of a health crisis, which might last 12 weeks, maybe more, but it will end.

It is not just a local or national event, but a global health crisis, something that should unify us, and remind us that borders, bunkers, and hoarding aren’t what really defines us. It is not a time to think about the worst of outcomes or become overwhelmed by collective fear. The press just feeds this mood, and then let people justify their actions by this. We should remain positive and remember that this will end.

Humans have been through much worse in history; indeed, many places plagued by war and poverty still go through worse. We have to remind ourselves that the myths and stories which will survive into the future will be those of love and hope. It is why we will still talk about the blitz spirit.

At the Nottingham Centre for Photography and Social Engagement, we want you all to remember that we are all social beings. Despite the myth of the isolated artist, we need to recognise that for art to be created we need each to connect and that at this time we should appreciate how reliant we are on upon one another.

This health crisis is touching all of our lives, and we should use the opportunity to reach out to people, support one another and keep working. Remember, our actions should not be based on fear or thinking about the worst outcome but love and compassion.

We will be connecting more online over the coming weeks, and also using the opportunity to showcase the work and connecting with our local photography community. We are thinking about running classes, and portfolios review online. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know.

In the meantime, most of you will have had all paid work stopped, or delayed, and be worrying about income streams. Government guidance, Art Council and other funders will not be making their announcement until next week. Once this is clearer, we will try to arrange to get online conversations with people who can offer advice. If you have any questions, please email us, and we will try and provide answers.

Here’s a list of things to think about
Get a plan for your cash flow
Most photographers will have their work cancelled or delayed, and worrying about money, but there should be help around. The precise nature of the financial assistance will be more evident next week, in the meantime, don’t just worry about finances, work our your cash flow for the next four months. Work it out precisely and think about where you need help, which items can be delayed, put on hold, or simply cancelled. If you need help with working out cashflows contact us. There is some useful advice on the Redeye website here (https://www.redeye.org.uk/opinion/working-through-coronavirus-pandemic)

Help others
Yes, don’t put yourself or others at risk, but remember to also help to break the isolation of others. For some people, like older people who may live alone and those suffering from mental health issues and/or trauma, the climate of fear and collective doom will just reinforce their social isolation and anxiety. If you cook a meal, just drop off some food, or do a chore, it’s a time to connect, albeit safely.

Share the burden
Your social activism should continue to promote and demonstrate equality. Notably, but not exclusively, women are likely to find themselves obliged to take on an even more substantial burden of domestic and childcare duties during periods of confinement. We must respond to ensure that women (our relatives, friends and comrades) are not placed in this invidious situation but share the work with them equally and based on need.

Start or continue a photography project, and remember to document these times
We now hear a load of words, albeit negative words, daily. A month ago we did not use these words, “Social distancing”, “social isolation”, “super-spreader”, “WFH” (working from home), “WFO” (working from office), “contactless delivery”, “micro-socialising”, “lockdown”, “self-quarantine”, “cocooning”, “community spread”, “Wuhan”, “contact tracing”, “N95”, “flatten the curve”, “quarantini”, “distance learning”, “iatrogenic”, “caremongering”, “young vector” and “virtual happy hour”. You could have so much fun creating visual images for this new language.

If you do this, please email us, and we will promote your work in future newsletters. Spread the word If you think other people will benefit from this newsletter, please forward it and encourage people to subscribe.

Keep safe and stay optimistic. Jagdish, Dan, Jake and Leah

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