Costume Industry Coalition Launches Emergency Relief Campaign to Raise $4.5 M

All donations received between now and September 25th will be matched dollar for dollar.

By: Sep. 02, 2020
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Costume Industry Coalition Launches Emergency Relief Campaign to Raise $4.5 M

The Costume Industry Coalition has announced the launch of its emergency relief campaign with a matching challenge up to $100,000 for the coalition, beginning today. All donations received between now and September 25th will be matched dollar for dollar. The fundraising goal for the campaign is set at $4.5 million.

In response to the entertainment industry shut down, New York City's custom costume industry launched the CIC in June 2020 to advocate for its own survival. Members include over 50 small, unique, independent businesses and artisans, in and around New York City, that create and supply costumes for everything from stage, dance, television/film, opera, cruise ships, and concerts.

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The work of the Costume Industry Coalition can be seen worldwide. They collectively employ hundreds of expert artisans, including pattern makers, cutters, stitchers, tailors, milliners, hand finishers, craftspeople, embroiderers, sculptors, painters and dyers. Since timelines for the reopening of entertainment venues continue to shift, CIC Members recognize their survival is in jeopardy, as their orders have largely been cancelled or delayed indefinitely, leaving them without income for the foreseeable future.

The coalition's fiscal sponsor is the Artisans Guild of America (AGA), a non-profit dedicated to perpetuating the American tradition of the artisan workroom. All donations will be tax-deductible through the AGA, with the majority of the CIC Relief Fund being used to cover rent, employee health insurance, and utilities.

One of the Founding Members of the coalition, John Kristiansen, is owner of John Kristiansen New York, Inc., a full-service costume shop that builds costumes for all mediums.

"On March 12th, I went to the emergency room with symptoms of Covid-19. When I was released on March 18th, not only was my shop closed, but my whole industry was shuttered indefinitely. We were compelled to get the CIC together to safeguard our livelihoods-as we are one tentacle of the entertainment industry that cannot pivot to a telecommuting model. We simply can't build costumes via Zoom," said Kristiansen.

Brian Blythe, a Founding Member of CIC and John Kristiansen's Business Manager, explains, "We have turned to private donations because in speaking to the Mayor's office, State Senate and Lieutenant Governor, I kept being told they are waiting for federal relief. While the arts and culture sector adds $877 billion value added to the US economy, employs 5.1 million people and is 4.5% of the GDP, it is often overlooked in federal relief packages. And as arts organizations start to fold, the local restaurants, hotels, parking decks, gas stations, dry cleaners, fabric stores, hardware stores will all be impacted. We may be focusing our efforts on New York, but we can't forget the arts and culture sector is hemorrhaging nationwide."

"What many don't understand is our interdependence," says CIC Founding Member Sally Ann Parsons, of Parsons-Meares, Ltd. Her shop was founded in 1980, but even as a full-service costume shop she still relies on specialty pleaters, fabric printers, embroiderers and other CIC Members to feed her their pieces of a costume to complete one look. "We all work in conjunction with each other, and if one of our Members closes, there will be a collapse of our entire ecosystem," Parsons adds. "We all know the entertainment industry will be back. We just want to ensure we are still here when it does."

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