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Ashley Mirakian 
Chief of Marketing and Audience Development


Partnership with Grady Health System is model for innovation in arts organizations during COVID-19 Pandemic

ATLANTA – March 23, 2020 – The Atlanta Opera has partnered with Grady Health System to craft medical masks for use in area hospitals affected by shortages in personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Atlanta Opera has a fully equipped costume and wardrobe department ready to adapt during the current crisis. All Costume Shop employees will dedicate their working hours to the effort, as work on upcoming productions has ceased.

Atlanta Opera and Grady Health System CEOs Tomer Zvulun and John Haupert connected on the idea late last week. Haupert is an avid opera fan, a supporter of The Atlanta Opera, and a board member of The Santa Fe Opera.

“When I pitched the idea to John, he immediately connected me with his vice president, Mark Terranova, who is in charge of supply chain, and Mark responded very enthusiastically to the idea” said Zvulun. “This is a time of great need for the medical community and the community at large. The question that we ask ourselves is no longer ‘how can we save a production?’ but ‘how can we save lives?’” he added.

The mask design, provided by the hospital, is meant to cover N95 respirator mask and prolong its usable life.

Joanna Schmink, Costume Director for The Atlanta Opera, created a prototype early this week, and Grady Hospital will be sending operating room sheets to the opera for use as fabric, so that Costume Shop employees can work on the project.

As part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, The Atlanta Opera recently canceled the final two performances of its recent production of Porgy and Bess, in advance of local and regional government officials' calls to do so. The company paid the cast, chorus, crew and orchestra responsible for preparing and performing Porgy and Bess for the entire run. All told, more than 200 people worked on stage, in the orchestra pit or behind the scenes to deliver the production.    

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company Atlanta deserves, with a vision to reimagine opera.

Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-20 season. The Opera works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form.

Under the leadership of internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. In recent years, the company was recognized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its “Best of 2015” awards; it was nominated for an International Opera Award in 2016; and it won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement, recognizing its successful Veterans Program in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation.

In addition, The Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University entitled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.”

For more information, visit

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