Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that through a grant provided by the Boston Resiliency Fund, Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) will work with its local costume shop partner, CostumeWorks, to initially produce over 1,800 lip-reading-friendly clear-front face masks to support Boston’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, and others who rely on facial expression to communicate. BLO will manage distribution of the face masks in partnership with the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities. The masks produced will be donated, or sold at a discounted rate.
“We know that wearing face masks is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Walsh. “It is critical that our residents are able to access face masks, and I am pleased that through the Boston Resiliency Fund we are able to support Boston Lyric Opera’s unique partnership to create needed face masks for our Deaf and Hard of Hearing residents as well as others who rely on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate.”
“Accessibility is about more than just ramps. This is another example of Mayor Walsh’s commitment to ensuring access and inclusion of all persons with disabilities throughout the city’s reopening after COVID-19,” said Boston Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh. “I would like to thank the BLO for their hard work and dedication in producing these clear masks. Our city thrives because of successful public-private partnerships like this.”
“Who could predict that a pandemic would bring to us an opportunity like this — to serve a new community,” said Bradley Vernatter, Boston Lyric Opera’s Chief Operating Officer. “Along with the production staff at BLO, the artists at CostumeWorks took great care in designing and delivering a simple, elegant product to help potentially thousands of Boston’s Deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens. At the same time, it puts hard-hit artists back to work, which is a goal we prioritize even if we can’t perform live for the time being. We are delighted and thankful to the Boston Resiliency Fund for making this effort possible.”
Since launching in March to help Boston residents most affected by COVID-19, the Boston Resiliency Fund has distributed over $25.7 million to 340 nonprofit and local organizations and there is $7.6 million in funds remaining. Fifty-four percent (54%) of grantee organizations are led by a person of color. Fifty-seven percent (57%) are led by women, and 27 percent are immigrant-serving organizations.
Since its founding in 1976, Boston Lyric Opera has led the way locally and regionally in celebrating the art of the voice, through innovative programming and community engagement initiatives that redefine the opera-going experience. BLO is the largest and longest-lived opera company in New England.