GEELONG’S largest costume hire operator, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, is facing closure if it can’t garner support for its valuable community service.
The Dress Up Place has helped stage productions by numerous schools and theatre troupes across the region but now needs a helping hand itself.
Julie Hall, co-founder of the Grovedale not-forprofit, said The Dress Up Place has been able to offer access and affordability to costumes for more than a decade, but business has tightened and the shop’s 27,000 costumes could be hung up for good next year.
“We started as a group of friends who had all been involved in the theatre, mainly Geelong Lyric. We saw the need for a central body for costumes everyone could afford.
“We’ve provided costumes for everyone. We’ve done all sorts of shows: Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Little Shop of Horrors, Peter Pan, themed parties, medieval
weddings and lots more.”
Along the way, The Dress Up Place evolved from a supplier to an unofficial training centre for people with disabilities, and is registered with Volunteering Geelong and Centrelink.
“We were approached by St Laurence Disability Services about re-training people to re-enter the workforce and that’s become a big part of our operation,” Ms Hall said.
“We’re not funded for that any more but we currently have 14 volunteers and eight have a disability of some sort.
“We have three cancer survivors, three diabetics, two with epilepsy, a couple with OCD and a lady who’s deaf.”
She said the business was still being used by schools and amateur theatre companies but public demand has dropped off.
“There’s Book Week and dress-up days and school concerts, so things are usually busy for the last six months of the year. But the first half is usually quiet and we’re basically funded to the end of March and that’s it.
“It’s sad but we know what’s coming and that’s why we’re hoping someone or some organisation might be able to help us out.
“We’re in the process of registering as a taxdeductible non-profit, we tick all the boxes; and hopefully that will help.”
Anyone interested in assisting The Dress Up Place, either with financial support or an alternate venue, can email Julie Hall at email@example.com.