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  • Melinda Murphy

Broadway designers make PPE

Broadway has been closed for three months and this week, it was announced that New York City’s Broadway theaters will remain closed until at least September 6, in an effort to continue social distancing and curb the spread of coronavirus. Film and TV productions have been put on hiatus as well, and as a result, many costume designers have suddenly found themselves out of work for the summer. But in light of the pandemic, a new collective of hundreds of costumers are repurposing their craft to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, who are on the frontlines battling the virus every day.

Over 700 costume designers and sewers have teamed up on the Broadway Relief Project, a new initiative producing PPE, such as masks and gowns, and delivering them to public hospitals across New York City. (Many of which have been experiencing shortages of the equipment). The project is being spearheaded by Open Jar Studios, one of the largest Broadway rehearsal spaces in New York City. Its president, Jeff Whiting, says the movement evolved out of many designers wanting to do their part. “Show people tend to be problem solvers,” he says. “We’re in a live entertainment field, and we’re wired to deal with unexpected things. As soon as this pandemic hit, everybody's brains went into that mode and asked, ‘how can we help?’”

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