FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2020
CHATHAM ARTS COUNCIL AND PARTNERS LAUNCH MASKS FOR MANY PROJECT
Local Under-Employed Artists Make Cloth Masks for Donation to Vital Workers in Chatham, Providing Needed Protection During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Pittsboro, NC – Chatham Arts Council and a consortium of concerned citizens have formed the Masks for Many project, an effort to partner with local artists who are under-employed to create cloth masks for donation to local businesses, essential workers, healthcare facilities, and more. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has brought unimaginable community challenges across the globe. While many people are now working from home to maintain social distancing, vital workers at medical facilities, grocery stores, drug stores, and delivery services continue to work to feed their families and support their community – essentially risking their lives to do so. These workers often don’t have the equipment needed to protect themselves, leaving them at significant risk for infection.
Masks for Many is particularly focused on distributing masks to protect vulnerable populations of color in Chatham County. “This virus is sinister,” explained Mike Wiley, a Pittsboro-based actor, playwright, and activist who initiated the Masks for Many project. “It attacks the weakest among us without warning. Preying mostly on the poor and vulnerable, like a bully. It’s no mystery that bullies are defeated when we stand together. With the Masks for Many project, not only do we protect our friends and neighbors, we protect ourselves. Let’s stand together and flatten the curve.”
Chatham Arts Council is accepting donations to cover materials costs and pay a small stipend to the artists working to make the cloth masks. In addition to helping vital workers stay safe at work, the effort will provide much needed income to local textile and costume artists who are also struggling with the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 due to the inevitable cancellations that accompany social distancing. “This is a way to help if you don’t have the time or the materials or the skills to sew masks yourself,” explained Cheryl Chamblee, Executive Director of Chatham Arts Council. “By giving dollars to this project, you’re helping in two ways at once: investing in talented local artists and also in the health of our community.”
The cloth masks are not medical grade (N95), but are designed based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for use by the general public. The masks are:
- Made from two layers of 100% cotton
- One size fits most (children’s sizes available by request)
- Machine washable.
Distribution of completed individually packaged artist-made masks will happen via FedEx with the help of the Chatham Arts Council’s partners, including Communities in Schools, Chatham Health Alliance, and others. Citizens with their own homemade masks and other personal protective equipment to donate are encouraged to drop those off at distribution points specified by partner organization Chatham Health Alliance.
ABOUT THE CHATHAM ARTS COUNCIL: The Chatham Arts Council nurtures creative thinkers in Chatham County. We do this in two ways: we invest in artists and we educate kids through the arts. In its thirty-seventh year as a nonprofit arts agency, Chatham Arts Council’s flagship programs include Meet This Artist, Go See This, Grassroots Arts Grants, and the Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative – serving more than 3,500 children this year. Chatham Arts Council is proud to partner with the NC Arts Council, the Durham Arts Council, Chatham County Schools, and numerous Chatham arts organizations, human resource nonprofits, and local businesses. For more information, visit www.ChathamArtsCouncil.org.
ABOUT MIKE WILEY PRODUCTIONS: Mike Wiley Productions is a driving force in the development and promotion of documentary theatre. Led by actor and playwright, Mike Wiley, the company’s plays span the worlds of Emmett Till, Henry “Box” Brown, Jackie Robinson and more. Each work in the company’s repertoire is designed to inspire audiences to examine America’s racial history, teach the lessons of the past, and encourage the application of these truths to the present. For more information, visit www.MikeWileyProductions.com
- Mike Wiley, Founder, Masks for Many project, firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.619.0096.
- April Starling, Marketing/Public Relations Leader of the Chatham Arts Council, email@example.com or 917.544.0608.
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