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A couple of weeks ago, we were approached by a group of freelance theater technicians, who were looking at a way to solve two problems. It was rapidly becoming obvious that the manufacture of supplementary masks and other Personal Protective Equipment would be necessary, and many, suddenly unemployed Theater Costumers could be put to work making them. Would we be able to help them with the organization of coming together as a 501c3?

This initiative definitely falls within our mission statement and we were more than happy to help! We would like to formally announce that the Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc. (the philanthropic arm of AIBI) is partnered with the newly formed Artists’ Resource Mobilization (ARM) to help address the needs of local stitchers and costumers.

For Immediate Release

April 6 , 2020


Kristen P Ahern

Co-Founder, Logistics/Manufacturing


AIFI and Theatre Technicians Mobilize to Manufacture Supplemental PPE

Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc. partners with Chicago-area creatives to address mask and gown shortages in the face of Covid-19

[Chicago, IL] – Varied pleas for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have flooded the news and our social media streams over the past few weeks, as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, and increases in Covid-19 patients across the country. Amidst the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, the arts community is particularly fragile. Without the ability to gather, live entertainment is devastated by this crisis.

Motivated by the need to put highly skilled theatre technicians back to work, the Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc. has joined forces with local technicians to form Artists Resource Mobilization (ARM), ARM is currently in communication to manufacture a variety of supplemental PPEs (masks, gowns, etc...) for healthcare organizations and individuals in need. ARM is working in tandem with healthcare professionals and other mobilizing organizations like the Skilled Laborers Brigade to ensure that the products manufactured and the materials used will be of direct service to those who require them.

Working with AIFI affords ARM to operate as a non-profit, donation wise. After a successful seed campaign of $1000, AIFI has launched an updated GoFundMe to help jump-start the program. You can learn more here:

“In the early days of this crisis, we saw calls for supplemental PPE with conflicting information. Materials, styles, instructions… It was confusing even to those of us with professional garment manufacturing experience. To cut through the noise, ARM is working directly with the recipients of our products to ensure that we are making usable supplemental PPE with the best practices as defined by those who will be using them.” ~ Kristen P Ahern, ARM Co-Founder

The vast majority of theatre personnel in Chicago are freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time employees. This community possesses an amazingly wide array of skill sets that are typically beholden to the ebbs and flows of production cycles but have the potential to transcend theatrical production. Theatre technicians have broad talents and skills and have always been committed to serving the community’s civic and arts engagement. As such ARM believes the Chicago artistic community, specifically performing arts at this moment, is uniquely positioned, available, and anxious to be put to work fabricating and distributing high-quality face masks and other products that will be vital to ‘flattening the curve’.

ARM will be developing masks and gowns to be provided to in need agencies at cost. Leveraging the available workforce, ARM projects that hundreds of fabricators and distributors could scale up operations into the thousands of units per day.

While ARM’s initial intent is to serve immediate need caused from medical supply shortages for the Covid-19 crisis, ARM believes their organizational principles and mission will outlast the current crisis and eventually serve as a national template for connecting specific theatre personnel; artists, crafters, technicians, costumers, carpenters, electricians, etc, with vital solutions in crisis situations.

Artists Resource Mobilization is powered by:

Kristen P Ahern of Conscious Costume

Aaron Shapiro of Shapiro Production Management

Ambar Campos of Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc.

Kat Anderson of Apparel Industry Board, Inc.

Shelby Brand, Freelance Costumer and Standardized Patient


To learn more about Artists Resource Mobilization, or how to get involved, please visit or email

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