In March of 2011 a group of people from different photography organisations met in Bradford to talk about 'Networks and collaborations'. This was convened by, among other people, Anne Mcneill, the Director of Impressions Gallery who said it was partly a result of the threat of cuts that were facing the sector. Not everyone could make it. Another meeting was held to coincide with Look 2011 a couple of months later. Time passed but there was still a desire to talk about matters of common interest and so the group agreed to meet once again to coincide with the National Photography Symposium which took place at the weekend.
The group was made up of representatives of publicly-funded photography organisations, mostly galleries but also organisations like Redeye and Source. There was some debate about how loosely defined this group was: how clear was the distinction between the publicly-funded and not-publicly-funded? (Not that clear) Should museums be included? What about university departments? In the end it was thought the group seemed to share a common history and that they belonged together.
Everyone agreed that more could be made of this common history and that it would be a good thing to reassert the collective purpose of exhibiting and examining photography. Social media seemed like a good way to demonstrate this shared ambition. Everyone present took the practical attitude that it would be difficult to arrange anything that required extra work but that a simple thing like using Twitter (for those that do use Twitter) could be an effective way of supporting and highlighting one another's activities.
As well as being easy, it would allow anyone else to join in. Everyone also pledged to make more of an effort to share information about what they were planning and to meet again in the future. But for the time being if you see the hashtag #photouk it probably means it is something to do with the activities of our national network of photography organisations, if you're interested in what one of them is doing you'd probably find the others interesting as well.