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Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton Recognizes the Costume Industry Coalition

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • January 21, 2021

The Costume Industry Coalition (CIC) is honored to have the support of one of the theatre industry’s greatest champions: Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here is that video message from Secretary Clinton:

The costume industry is an essential but often unseen part of New York City’s arts and culture landscape: they create, supply, and care for costumes for stage, dance, television, film, opera, cruise ships, concerts and more. The CIC was created in June 2020 to advocate for the survival of their vital but fragile ecosystem of small businesses—that employ over 500 artisans, craftspeople, and costume experts—to ensure their employees will have an artistic home to which to return once this current crisis is over.

The path to connecting to Secretary Clinton began after she appeared on a New York Times virtual panel, bemoaning the fact she missed live theatre. Soon after, she tweeted her support for Be An #ArtsHero, the grassroots organization lobbying Congress for comprehensive arts relief—and a CIC Partner. “When I reported the tweet to our Members,” said Founding Member, Brian Blythe, “I was suddenly flooded with emails recounting the unique connection between Secretary Clinton and the New York City costume industry.”

The custom gown designed by Sarah Phillips for President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993 was built by Barbara Matera, Ltd., previously one of NYC’s largest costume shops. The shop closed after Matera’s passing in 2001, but many of her employees branched out to create their own individual companies, many of whom are now Members of the CIC.

Katherine Marshall, owner of Tricorne costume shop, worked on the gown and still has a picture of herself and her young son standing next to it on a dress form at Matera’s.  “Working on the gown for the inauguration was a definite highlight for everyone working at Matera’s at that time” said Marshall. “It was a top-secret mission shared amongst the staff, which we were all so very proud to be a part of.”

Blythe reached out to Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, to see if he could help introduce the CIC to Secretary Clinton, because he has been extremely supportive of the CIC’s mission during the pandemic.

“All of us at Disney Theatrical stand proudly with the Costume Industry Coalition and the shops and businesses they represent,” said Schumacher. “Their contributions to our industry are gigantic and too often unsung. But just try to imagine Beauty and the Beast without its massive Tony-winning cutlery costumes, Aladdin without Genie’s dazzling blue suit or The Lion King without Mufasa’s majestic African patterns and beading. All those works of art and thousands more are possible only because of the glove makers, milliners, drapers, cutters, beaders, and the scores of artisans of the CIC.” With Schumacher’s endorsement, an email was drafted—complete with the picture of Marshall and her son—and was sent to Clinton’s team.

“That was an email I never thought I’d write, but when we thought of her love of live performances coupled with the inaugural gown—we had to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Blythe. “To have her respond was definitely thrilling.”

The Costume Industry Coalition estimates a loss of over $25 million in gross revenue in 2020 due to the shutdown.  They have started a recovery fund, with the goal of raising $3 million toward the debt they collectively incurred in 2020. Timelines for the reopening of entertainment venues continue to shift, and CIC Members recognize their survival remains in jeopardy.

“The vaccine release and the passing of Save Our Stages—which helps many in the theatrical community—have given us some hope we can make it through the shutdown,” says Blythe, “but until we have sustainable orders, we know we still have a long road ahead of us.”

Having Secretary Clinton’s support has motivated the Members of the CIC to continue on their path. “For Secretary Clinton to recognize the Costume Industry Coalition is the highest of honors,” adds Marshall. “We are so grateful for her devotion to the arts and her shout out on our behalf!”

Further information from the Costume Industry Coalition: www.costumeindustrycoalition.com.

Tax deductible donations can be made by visiting www.costumeindustrycoalition.com or www.artisansguildofamerica.com.

 

About Costume Industry Coalition
The Costume Industry Coalition mobilized in the wake of the entertainment industry shut down to advocate for the survival of the New York City custom costume industry.  It includes 55 small, unique, independent businesses and artisans—in and around New York City—that create, supply and care for costumes for the entertainment industry. Members employ hundreds of specialty artisans and costume experts that hail from over 39 different countries.

 

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