Vancouver Opera Mobilizes Costume Department To Make Non-Surgical Grade Masks For Workers In Essential Positions

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Vancouver Opera Mobilizes Costume Department To Make Non-Surgical Grade Masks For Workers In Essential Positions

Vancouver Opera is mobilizing to answer the public need for non-surgical grade masks during COVID-19. The costume shop is transitioning from creating stage costumes and working backstage to building masks for the community.

"We have been hearing about workers in essential and vulnerable positions who are unable to access masks," said Tom Wright, Vancouver Opera General Director. "Vancouver Opera was eager to find a way to help those with a need. Our goal is to get these into the hands of those who need them as quickly as possible. With the cancellation of our season, our employees began to research ways they could help which include how to build non-surgical grade masks. We found most of the resources needed were already here in our costume shop."

The charitable program is being led by Autumn Coppaway, Vancouver Opera Technical Director, and Parvin Mirhady, Head of Costumes. They work together to ensure all steps of the project are done with proper social distancing and hygiene. Once materials are dropped off to members of the sewing team, the completed masks are picked up and delivered directly to organizations by Autumn Coppaway.

When asked why Vancouver Opera wanted to help the community, Autumn Coppaway added "we, as artists, are so diverse and passionate because we expose the greatest and weakest of humanity. In these moments of darkness, art reminds us that we each can be that light. Though our stages are dark, our hearts and spirits are not, and we still have stories to tell. And this is our story and Vancouver Opera's small contribution."

With established long-standing relationships, Vancouver Opera will be donating non-surgical grade masks to community organizations including The Kettle Society. Vancouver Opera is hoping to create as many non-surgical masks as they are able. To help support this effort, donations can be made online at . Donations of $25 help provide five masks to those in need and $100 provides 25 masks.

Using a prototype and working from home, costumers use natural fabric such as cotton or silk, fabric interfacing, elastics and cotton thread to create masks. As anyone could be an asymptomatic carrier, these masks assist with filtration and coverage in a move towards flattening the curve. At this time wearing a mask is a measure that can help protect those around you from COVID-19 and reduces your exposure to respiratory droplets. More information on masks can be found at


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