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Impact on costumes for children's theater?

 
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Beth Laske-Miller
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:11 pm    Post subject: Impact on costumes for children's theater? Reply with quote

This may be an odd question, but I just realized that the theater I work for is comprised of performers ages 8-18 ONLY, and we make most of our costumes in-house from whatever fabrics we can find, usually JAs, Hancocks, Vogues, fabric from people's own personal stashes, etc . . .

We're probably pretty far down on the government's hit-list, however I'm wondering if we are on that list? Once a costume is made, it is generally worn by one child for a 2 week run (generally 16 performances), then washed & put into stock until the next time we do the show. So, they don't keep the garment, but does that matter? We also rent out our costumes.

So, does this legislation affect only retail goods, or all applications of manufactured products with which children come in contact?
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Impact on costumes for children's theater? Reply with quote

Beth Laske-Miller wrote:
So, does this legislation affect only retail goods, or all applications of manufactured products with which children come in contact?

It affects ALL manufactured products -and by manufactured, that does include one of a kind items made by self described "artists". You don't even have to rent or sell the items to be affected. This is one reason libraries are in an uproar. According to the law, they will have refuse entrance to all children 12 and younger or pull all the product from the stacks.

Quote:
We're probably pretty far down on the government's hit-list, however I'm wondering if we are on that list?

This is a thought that creeps into the discussion over and over. Does it matter if you're on the hit list or likely to get caught? I realize I'm weird but I cannot do something knowing it is illegal. Yeah, I know the kids are the ones who suffer but in this case, following the letter of the law is the only way we can have the full impact of the law made known to the public. PTAs across the country should be protesting this. If we weasel around the law thinking it's okay because we won't get caught...well, it doesn't seem quite fair to other people who are not likely to escape notice or those who will escape notice but cannot ethically ignore the law.

Some people have likened to disobeying the law as civil disobedience but in most cases, it's a matter of commerce really. The full impact of the law will not be made known to the average person unless each of us, even if we don't "have to", follow the letter of the law. It's only through being civilly obedient we can make our message known.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:48 pm    Post subject: I wouldn't be so sure Reply with quote

The question is, is a theatrical costume for a child a "product" for the purposes of the Act? Without reading the act I suspect that an excellent argument could be made that the answer is "no," especially if the costumes are not being rented out. They are not clothing, they are not a toy, they are not Halloween costumes or part of a dress up kit. A costume is a theater prop as much as anything else that appears on stage.

I doubt a theater has to follow any CPSA rule such as drawstrings or anything else on costumes, so they would not be a product "regulated by the Act." The rules instead would probably be the child labor laws that apply to child actors. Otherwise, how could you ever do a period play or film with period-correct costumes on the actors?
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Shannon Foster
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are looking for an exemption that is just not there (yet). As ludicrous as it sounds, it is covered under the law. A school book for use by a 4th grader is encompassed in this law right now. Both situations are equally ridiculous, but it IS covered under the law. Technically.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:37 pm    Post subject: think again Reply with quote

No, I'm not looking for an exemption. The Act applies only to consumer products. I think it is questionable that a theater costume qualifies as a consumer product. Even though they sometimes looks like clothing they are not clothing.

Books on the other hand are clearly consumer products. Were I the original poster I'd obtain a formal legal opinion and act accordingly.
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J C Sprowls



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No. You're splitting hairs hoping to find something that sticks. The simple fact of the matter is: if you want a legal opinion, then ask Ms. Falvey. We're relatively confident that the argument of 'looks like clothing; but, it ain't, really...' won't hold water.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not splitting hairs at all. CPSA / CPSIA applies only to "consumer products." The law states that an article which is *not* customarily produced or distributed for sale to, or use or consumption by, or enjoyment of, a consumer, is *not* a consumer product.

I could manufacture a table, for example, that I sell only to institutional customers and that is used only in a factory setting, and it wouldn't matter that it superfically looks like a table you would use in your house. It would not be governed by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, it would be governed by OSHA. But if consumers start buying the table, then it becomes a "consumer product." The Commission has long been very clear on this point.

Further, I don't think there has ever been a formal opinion on whether a theater costume is a consumer product or not, despite the fact that theater costumes have been made and used since before the founding of the USA. The issue is not "does it look like clothing?"-- and I put it to you that some costumes look like clothing but some don't-- the issue is, is it a "consumer product" as defined by the law?

There has been guidance from the Commission that if an item is associated with a school that it might be a consumer product even though it is intended for institutional use, but that is because school use is specifically mentioned in the act.

As stated earlier, were I the original poster I'd get a formal legal opinion and act accordingly. He or she would be a fool to rely on what he or she reads here. My sole point is merely that the answer is not as clear as you imagine. To suggest otherwise seems hysterical and does not help this cause.

Furthermore, however this narrow and peculiar issue is ultimately resolved, it is a distraction from the very real and serious issue that folks who obviously are making consumer products are facing.
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Michelle M.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It matters not what definition you're looking for. If it's intended for use by kids, for even a moment, it needs to be tested for lead. And because the law is retroactive, it encompasses all kids items.

"You can't reason people out of a position they didn't use reason to get into" -Kathy Sierra
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another view wrote:
I'm not splitting hairs at all. CPSA / CPSIA applies only to "consumer products." The law states that an article which is *not* customarily produced or distributed for sale to, or use or consumption by, or enjoyment of, a consumer, is *not* a consumer product.

By such reasoning, costumes could be interpreted as a consumer product in that they are part and parcel of a commercial entertainment product designed to be consumed by the public.

Quote:
Furthermore, however this narrow and peculiar issue is ultimately resolved, it is a distraction from the very real and serious issue that folks who obviously are making consumer products are facing.

I say we leave it at that.
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Beth Laske-Miller
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: think again Reply with quote

another view wrote:
Were I the original poster I'd obtain a formal legal opinion and act accordingly.


Yes, that is my intent, though I don't have a clue where to begin. Since this is a relatively fresh proposal, I am not optimistic about finding someone who knows the proposal well enough to properly advise me, but I will pursue it. I do not intend to do skirt the law in any way, I just want to know definitively what is required of me.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd start by contacting trade associations like the American Association of Community Theatre, the Broadway League, and the Costume Designer's Guild and asking what they've figured out so far. What are the big theatrical costume rental/fabrication folks like Western Costume doing? Depending on what you find out, your theater might then look for an attorney who understands the consumer product safety regulations. Or you might start lobbying Congress with the rest of us here.

P.S. A theatrical performance isn't a "consumer product" (that costumes could be a component of) because under the Act only something that can be described as an "article" can be a consumer product.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moved entry
dancecostumer wrote:
Among many of a confusion, "my industry" can not figure out how this affects us. Many of us make costumes for studios as a business. Many are solo costumes (one of a kind costumes) for performers for stage. Recital costumes are often only worn once. And are made for a group usually varied in age.

Does it matter if we are an employee of a studio and make costumes or have our own business and "sell" the costumes" to the studio?

Irish Dance Costumes fall under art copyright laws, are listed by age groups when sold. These are one of a kind works of art worn by girls of many ages. (so how could one comply with testing when solo costumes would need to be made two off, so they could destory one. whose willing to pay for that, one dress often starts at $500), These are very expensive dresses.

If an exemption for "costumes" were made, what about those that also make ballet skirts and leotards that would be worn in class?

Those that sell costumes to americans are also confused.

it would be intresting many competition dance costumes are stoned (crystals like crazy). I wonder if this will then stop. I'm just wondering if this will put many of the indepdent costumers/seamstress out of business. Many studio owners turn to them becasue the "big" companies can't do the custom work.

I know in the cloth diapering world many work at home moms will be closing their business and wonder how this will affect dance costumes.

thanks, i've tried reading everything, and no one knows for sure where this puts us as we are very unique. (or if anyone cares enough to incude/exclude us)
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