Oregon Ballet Theatre Creates and Donates 300 Face Masks in Covid-19 Fight

You might not think that a performing arts organization like Oregon Ballet Theatre would be uniquely positioned to make a practical contribution to the COVID-19 emergency, but you would be wrong . . .

OBT has a costume shop, and in it, supplies such as cotton fabric and elastic. As the COVID-19 emergency began to unfold, OBT’s Costume Shop Supervisor, Eileen Ehlert, heard about a call to action from IATSE Local 28 (Portland’s theatrical stage employees union). They were organizing “stitchers” – employees in performing arts costume shops who normally stitch and finish costumes – to make face masks for the COVID-19 emergency. Eileen realized that in addition to materials, OBT had many skilled stitchers and sewing enthusiasts within its community. She asked OBT’s directors for permission to participate in IATSE’s efforts, and received their support./

IATSE sent a pattern, complete with basic instructions and a tutorial. As shelter-in-place orders were spreading through the city and state, Eileen gathered OBT’s cotton, thread, and elastic and took it home. After recruiting a cadre of volunteers among OBT’s dancers and staff, she supplied them with materials and instructions. They are sewing away now, and have donated 298 masks so far.

IATSE Local 28 distributes the masks to help with community needs ranging from OHSU and Providence hospitals, to Janus Youth Programs, Oregon Veterans Home, PPS painters, bus drivers, grocery workers, home healthcare agencies, and families at home who must isolate from each other.

Many thanks to IATSE for their donation efforts, and to all the stitchers for sharing their skill and connecting with our community in this way.

PS: Here are good instructions to make a face mask at home:

How to Make a Mask. Also, this NYT article on how to make a mask.

Banner images at top: OBT Company Artist Makino Hayashi at work, and OBT Education Outreach Director Kassandra Gruener with an armload of completed masks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.