Elevate Open Forum
Leading during Adversity: Using Fashion to Champion Social Change
Robin Atkinson, CEO of Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week and founder of Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum, joins the Elevate Open Forum to discuss the approach she has taken to community outreach and education, as well as organizing measures in response to existing inequities the pandemic has underscored.
Arkansas Community Foundation Grant
ARKANSAS ARTS & FASHION FORUM RECEIVES GRANTS FROM THE ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FOR THE CONTINUATION OF MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION
The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has received a generous grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation to continue funding the production of medical masks for the Northwest Arkansas community. The project initiative will allow AAFF to continue to donate masks to front line workers, first responders, and healthcare professionals. With the funding received from the Arkansas Comunity Foundation, AAAFF will be able to staff and pay full-time workers to create masks that meet CDC standards. The gifts are dedicated to supporting the work of local seamstresses from diverse communities to produce high-quality cloth masks to be donated to local medical facilities. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin production on 7,000 cloth masks for the community. Partnering with students from their sewing workshops alongside professional sewist from Canopy NWA, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has established the first non-profit sewn goods workshop of its kind in Arkansas.
Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will continue to work with organizations such as the Sewn Trades Collective, Urban Manufacturing Alliance, and the Arkansas Maker’s Task Force, to stay up to date on best practices, material resources, and needs within the local community, in Arkansas, and on a national level. To increase efficiency for this project, AAFF will purchase their own laser cutting device that will increase the production rate of the medical masks, allowing AAFF to assist more clinics and health professionals in need. AAFF will also continue to receive support from The Northwest Arkansas Community College Technology and Building Sciences department as well. They played a major role in speeding up the mask production process by using their own laser cutting device.
Upon the reopening of the country cases of COVID-19 have spiked and are projected to continue to rise. The Center for Disease Control is continuing the recommendation of universal mask wearing for all people who must interact with the public. This includes a recommendation for the public at large, along with healthcare professionals, frontline workers, and first responders. Because of this spike in new coronavirus cases The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum wants to continue their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and once again, flatten the curve.
The Regional Arts Service Organization (RASO) Grant
ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM RECEIVES NWA COUNCIL GRANT FOR CONTINGENCY PLANNING, GROWTH, AND DEVELOPMENT OF ONLINE CONTENT
The Regional Arts Service Organization (RASO) at the Northwest Arkansas Council has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum the generous Bridge Fund Grant, supported through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, to fund the development of a contingency revenue stream in lieu or in addition to live in-person events for the Northwest Arkansas community. This one-time gift is dedicated to supporting the rethinking of AAFF and Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week’s current business model and will assist in crafting an adaptive response to an unreliable live-events climate through maximizing online sponsorship opportunities, creating direct to consumer product fundraising opportunities, and exploring the development of subscription-only content and experiential opportunities. This funding has given the organization the capital to begin production of a new digital platform and web-based marketing to achieve new capacities for opening revenue streams beyond live event ticket sales and in-person fundraising events. With a robust online presence, AAFF & NWAFW will be able to expand income potential, develop new and exciting programming, and grow the reach of content beyond the regional base.
Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership will work to build an online platform to bring live and pre-recorded event content online, develop new content for the launch of the digital platform, as well as a streamlined contingency planning for live events. This will enable AAFF to work directly with local contracted web developers and in-house marketing team alongside contracted videographers, artists, designers, hair and makeup talent, models, educational speakers. AAFF strives to create programming that is relevant specifically to under-targeted and underrepresented populations. AAFF wants to increase the visibility of minorities across racial, ethnic, economic, physical, gender expression, and ability based divides.
AAFF and NWA Fashion Week stand in solidarity with the Northwest Arkansas Council in fulfilling a mission of creating a more inclusive NWA region. We come together and know that a diverse and inclusive region is KEY to our future. We see you, we hear you, we stand with you and pursue meaningful action against white supremacy and racism.
Interested in helping with the development, design process, and implementation of AAFF’s new website? Click on the link below and fill out our questionnaire. We would love to hear from you! Or, contact our Director of Special Initiatives, Katie Marquess by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
TYSON FAMILY FOUNDATION GRANT FOR MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION
ARKANSAS ARTS AND FASHION FORUM RECEIVES TYSON FAMILY FOUNDATION GRANT FOR MEDICAL MASK PRODUCTION
The Tyson Family Foundation has given the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum a generous grant to fund the production of medical masks for the Northwest Arkansas community. This one-time gift is dedicated to supporting the work of local seamstresses from diverse communities to produce high quality cloth masks to be donated to local medical facilities. This funding, along with a grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation, has given the organization the capital to begin production on 2,000 cloth masks for the community. Partnering with students from their sewing workshops alongside professional sewist from Canopy NWA, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has established the first non-profit sewn goods workshop of its kind in Arkansas.
Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum leadership is working with the Sewn Trades Collective and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, along with the Arkansas Maker’s Task Force, to stay up to date on best practices, material resources, and needs within the local community, in Arkansas, and on a national level. To increase efficiency for this project, AAFF has also received assistance from the Northwest Arkansas Community College. The implementation of the Technology and Building Sciences department’s laser cutting technology has increased the production rate of the medical masks, allowing AAFF to assist more clinics and health professionals in need.
On April 3rd the Center for Disease Control released new guidelines recommending universal mask wearing for all people who must interact with the public. This includes a recommendation for the public at large, along with healthcare workers, food services workers, delivery drivers, and anyone else who must conduct essential business. Because of this increased demand for cloth masks across the entire population, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum began to seek funding to increase production from the volunteer-based services they had already been soliciting since March 20th with the launch of the volunteer based Mask Maker Challenge. Information on that program can be found arkansasfashion.org/masks
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum has pivoted its focus to respond to the needs of the local community, and to continue to provide both creative outlets, and professional opportunities. Along with the new mask workshop, AAFF has also been distributing masks made by volunteers from throughout the community and has distributed more than 1800 masks to date to local hospitals and clinics. They plan to distribute at least 2000 more by mid-May. Additionally, they have also begun offering masks for retail to the public through their Buy One / Give One program in partnership with local seamstresses. Each mask purchase includes a donation from the seamstress to a local healthcare provider. 80% of proceeds from those sales go directly to the seamstress, and 20% are donated to AAFF to continue their mask distribution projects.