This morning, I was looking at images of last night’s Halloween parade in the Village, marveling at the creativity of costumes, puppets, banners, and art on display. It seems as if Halloween brings out our passion for creating an altered persona and world, weaving together creative imagination and a variety of repurposed materials.
These images led me to thinking about the greatest NYC resource in our field for repurposed materials of every conceivable kind, and that is Materials for the Arts (MFTA). If your organization is not registered and you haven’t engaged in MFTA programs or visited the warehouse in Queens, a review of programs and services is highly recommended.
The MFTA warehouse is operated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education. MFTA collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and makes these donations available for free to its recipients: nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies, and public schools.
On any visit, you can expect to find stacks and stacks of useful supplies – bolts of fabric, every kind of paper and card, buckets full of buttons, boxes of feathers, paint, wood, furniture, equipment, and almost anything you can think of.
Friends of Materials for the Arts is the nonprofit partner that guides and supports educational programming, warehouse operations, programmatic initiatives and other goals of MFTA. Visit the Friends website to find out more about classes, p-credit courses, and useful resources such as sample lesson plans.
MTFA’s educational programming focuses on creative reuse: making art with readily available materials and the ever-changing MFTA warehouse inventory. The Center hosts programs in two studios, organizes exhibitions of recipient artwork at MFTA Gallery, and sends teaching artists into the community to share the art of reuse. Some examples of programs:
♦ Professional development for teachers workshops help educators learn engaging projects for lessons in all content areas.
♦ Field Trips: Tour the MFTA warehouse.
♦ In-school residencies: Bring Materials for the Arts to your school or site to enhance and reinforce curricula in math, science, social studies, and language arts.
♦ Art booths and Family Engagement Nights: Creative reuse program or art booth designed for a large audience, or a series of in-class art workshops linked to your curriculum
♦ Public Programs: Exhibitions, open studio nights, and workshops open to the public
♦ Teambuilding Workshops: Volunteer and then work together to create large-scale collaborative art pieces such as quilts, sculptures, or mosaics
There is an application process and applicants need to meet eligibility requirements. Visitors need to make an appointment prior to shopping at the warehouse. Click here for eligibility and application information.
Materials for the Arts is located at 33-00 Northern Boulevard, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101. Click here for hours and directions
For teachers, teaching artists, schools and non-profit arts organizations, the MFTA warehouse is a treasure trove! Enjoy your visit!