Costume Industry Coalition Launches To Survive Industry Wide Shutdown
In response to the entertainment industry shut down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City's custom costume industry has launched the Costume Industry Coalition (CIC) to advocate for their survival.
Members include over 40 small, unique, independent businesses and artisans- in and around New York City- that create and supply costumes for the entertainment industry. Together they build custom, one-of-a-kind costumes for theatre, dance, opera, concerts, theme parks, cruise ships, ice shows, live entertainments and on television and film worldwide.
Members of the CIC collectively employ hundreds of specialty artisans, including pattern makers, cutters, stitchers, tailors, milliners, hand finishers, craftspeople, embroiderers, sculptors, painters and dyers. Millions of dollars are infused into the New York City economy by Members through rent, payroll, and taxes and other expenses. They also support the Historic Garment District by buying materials (fabrics, trims, notions, equipment) from local vendors.
Timelines for the reopening of entertainment venues continue to shift, but the shutdown could last anywhere from six to eighteen months. Members of the CIC recognize their survival is in jeopardy, as their orders have largely been cancelled or delayed indefinitely. One of the lead organizers 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," said Kristiansen.
The CIC will be reaching out to state and local legislators to advocate for rent abatement as well as mortgage and property tax relief for landlords. "We need support from our government, City and State and Federal, to ensure we will not be evicted from our shops nor lose our employees while we wait for work," said Sally Ann Parsons, owner of Parsons-Meares, Ltd., a full service costume shop founded in 1980. They will also be engaging stakeholders, especially members of the Broadway industry. While other small businesses that support the entertainment industry can work remotely, the unique nature of fitting actors and building costumes requires most CIC Members to have large brick-and-mortar shops in and around the heart of Manhattan.
The CIC will also be reaching out to various Unions like the Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild to ensure safety measures are being discussed and agreed upon so all designers and performers will feel safe throughout the costume build process.
The CIC has launched a website at www.costumeindustrycoalition.com, which includes more details and information.
Members of the CIC are trying to remain optimistic. Eric Winterling, owner of Eric Winterling, Inc., a costume shop that has been building costumes for motion pictures, theatre and dance over 20 years, states, "We have faith that things will turn around eventually and that Broadway and other entertainment venues will return to what we consider normal."
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