As creative industries continue to rally in the face of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, we’re highlighting some of the inspiring initiatives that have been launched by artists and photographers
This article is published as part of our #CultureIsNotCancelled campaign:
Lockdowns around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted the creative industries in myriad ways – from closed exhibitions and cancelled events to halted productions and postponed launches (until when, no one is yet sure). Those working in the fashion, arts, photography and other industries have also rallied in empowering ways – supporting both the charities and frontline workers who find themselves at the forefront of the crisis, and fellow artists and cultural institutions threatened by the pandemic – by using newfound time to organise sales and initiatives which benefit people in need. Here, we’ll be spotlighting some of these inspiring feats, and updating as new ones are launched.
Earlier this year, legendary photographer Mick Rock was planning an exhibition of unseen images from his extensive archives – plans which were of course interrupted by the UK’s lockdown in March. The previously unseen images of stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, David Bowie and Kate Moss now feature in a print sale organised by West Contemporary, alongside other works by artists including KAWS, Banksy and Charming Baker, which supports the fundraising campaign #MasksForTheNHS.
Artist Wolfgang Tillmans was moved to support small nightlife and cultural venues whose existence is threatened by the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns the world over. 2020Solidarity sees posters by over 40 international artists offered on various crowdfunding sites as rewards for donating to particular venues. “I think there are many places that don’t get help or won’t get bailed out because they are informal places in culture and nightlife, where the lack of an audience is causing an existential threat,” Tillmans recently told AnOther of the genesis of the project. “I feel an urgency to do something for them, so that they won’t have to close down forever. For me, places of social life are also places of cultural life and it would be terrible if we lost half the places that we love going to.”
2020 is a newspaper-style printed publication, with contributions from over 70 photographers – including Alasdair McLellan, Gareth McConnell, Charlotte Wales, Sam Rock and Senta Simond – each taking over a page with an image. The £20 publication was created in aid of 20 charities: Age UK, Albert Kennedy Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, British Red Cross, CALM, European Food Banks Federation, Feeding America, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Help Refugees, Mind, National Emergencies Trust, NHS Charities Together, Refuge, RSPCA, Samaritans, Shelter, The Hepatitis C Trust, The Trussell Trust, Wellcome and Women’s Aid.
200 photographers have donated prints to Photographs for the Trussell Trust, a sale which raises urgent funds for the charity which runs two thirds of the UK’s food banks. May 6 is the final day of the sale: shop £100 prints by the likes of Jack Davison, Venetia Scott, Martin Parr and Lord Snowdon, and many more.
The social media-based initiative Artist Support Pledge was designed by Matthew Burrows as a direct response to many artists’ work being postponed or cancelled as a result of lockdown measures. Artist Support Pledge builds on the sales of artworks and using the hashtag #ArtistSupportPledge to create a network of buying and selling pieces: “Every time an artist reaches £1,000 of sales, they pledge to spend £200 on another artist’s work,” Burrows explains. The ever-growing network, which has also linked up with the UK’s Crafts Council, offers a means of discovering new pieces, adding to or starting a collection and supporting favourite artists.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a spike in racism against people of the Asian diaspora, manifesting in hostility and even hate crimes – which prompted London/New York-based photographer Sirui Ma and New York-based art director and the editor-in-chief of FAR NEAR Lulu Yao Gioiello to launch Artists for Asian American Federation (AFAAF). Raising money through the auction of unique pieces produced by Asian artists working across different fields and mediums, funds will be donated to Asian American Federation (AAF) which has pledged to provide food, medical and housing assistance and support for mental health and victims of domestic violence. “There have been over 100 incident reports of hate crimes against Asian people gathered by nonprofits and the general community in NYC,” says Ma, “yet zero of those cases were actually reported to law enforcement. It’s crucial for Asian communities, now more than ever, to push against the stereotype of us being the ‘silent minority’. We need to come together and make our voices heard as a community.” The auction, which is on until May 31, includes photographic prints, clothes, accessories among other items such as 9m88’s latest album Beyond Mediocrity and a painting made using traditional Chinese medicine.