French photographers demand President Macron puts his arts pandemic plan into practice

French photographers are calling on Emmanuelle Macron for a “photographic new deal” to support them through the coronavirus pandemic © Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP /Flickr

More than 400 photographers and photojournalists have signed an open letter to the French president Emmanuel Macron, urging him to move forward with a major programme of public commissions pledged in May in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The letter, which was recently published in the newspaper Le Monde, was signed by the French photographer and ecologist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the US-born documentary photographer Jane Evelyn Atwood and the veteran photojournalist Raymond Depardon, among others.

“On 6 May, the President announced a major national [initiative] for artists and authors. Since then, as the situation deteriorates for photographers every day, his words have not materialised [into actions],” the signatories say. In his speech, Macron said that he plans to "rebuild a cultural ambition for the country […] that the government would implement quickly”. The French Ministry of Culture had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

“The status of photographers is precarious and the economic crisis linked to the coronavirus is accelerating this situation,” the signatories say, stressing that fewer photographers are able to obtain press cards, which would enable them to work as official, and many are unable to claim unemployment benefits. “Nonetheless, since the onset of the crisis photographers began documenting the epidemic in their own way,” they say.

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