Four women smile as they hold a big cheque. The text above says "Announcing the Community Costume Emporium!"

Announcing: The Community Costume Emporium to Empower Performers in Wakefield!

Costumes are so important for helping actors get into character, and helping audiences more easily see the scenes that are playing out in front of them. But they can be so expensive!

Now, we have a solution: The Community Costume Emporium!

Supported by a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, we are creating a costume library at our Imaginarium space in the Ridings Shopping Centre that we have been given access to through partnership with the Art House and its Makey Wakey scheme.

At Empath, we pride ourselves on working with actors from our local community to put on fun plays like Professors G and J, through to change-making shows like 97% and our forthcoming community driven production The Man in the Moon. We have gathered a number of costumes, and are sourcing more for these and other productions — so we thought, why not share?

The Community Costume Emporium means that, for a small deposit, performers in our area will be able to take out costumes, props, and scenery for their own productions, use them, and then return them washed/cleaned and in good condition for others to use.

We are encouraging people to donate clothes they would like to see have a second life to be part of the Costume Emporium, and in this way divert good quality clothing or props away from landfill. The more unusual or eye-catching the better. We would also love to repurpose items like wood boards, crates, and other items that will be suitable for scenery.

In addition, we will also be providing workshops centring on teaching members of our community how to sew and mend their clothes — in this way, we hope to further add to the growing and urgent sustainability movement in Wakefield and beyond, and helping to make the creative economy in Wakefield more circular. 

Steven Busfield, Co-Director at Empath Action CIC says, “In just a year of being in operation we have accumulated hundreds of pounds worth of costumes. If you are a solo creative, a start-up performance company, or training and needing costumes for performances on which you will be graded, this expense just isn’t viable. Now, the Costume Emporium will be there to help! We also want to encourage groups who use props for sensory play to get in touch with us when we launch so that we can help you access new items that might encourage more creative exploration among the communities you serve.”

Danny Barraclough, a young local actor, says of the Costume Emporium, “The Community Costume Emporium would be so useful for actors like myself because this is a resource that we don’t really have in the local area. … There are loads of aspiring creatives particularly in the performing arts sector [in Wakefield] and this would be such a great thing to be able to access as most performances/shows/conventions will most likely be low budget and this would make life that little bit easier and definitely cheaper for performers like myself when putting on such shows.”

The Community Costume Emporium will launch early in the new year, with our sustainability workshops soon to follow.

In the meantime, if you have pre-loved items you think would be perfect for the Costume Emporium, or would like to register as an organisation or group who would be interested in taking part in this scheme, please get in touch today via this email link. We’d love to chat with you.

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