Legendary singer and songwriter Paul Simon became so enamored with Materials for the Arts (MFTA) during a tour of its Long Island City facility that the Kew Gardens native played a benefit concert in the warehouse on Northern Boulevard in 2017. Following a New York Rangers victory in the Winter Classic at Citi Field in 2018, the NHL donated nearly 18,000 square feet of plywood that was used to build the outdoor hockey rink to MFTA, an organization that collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals and finds where they can be useful.
Now, as part of the Summer of NYC, the city program run by the Department of Cultural Affairs will launch the MFTA Citywide Tour, distributing free supplies throughout the five boroughs during the month of July.
While members have visited the MFTA in person for decades, and MFTA’s Curbside Pickup program has continued to serve the arts community during the pandemic, the MFTA Citywide Tour is a new initiative to ensure that arts groups, public schools and other cultural organizations have the tools they need to help New Yorkers reconnect and revive communities across the city.
“Arts and culture contribute to healthy communities, and they are critical pieces of New York City’s recovery from the pandemic,” NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Deputy Commissioner Sheelah Feinberg said. “Throughout the MFTA Citywide Tour, we are helping ensure that arts educators and cultural workers have direct, local access to an amazing range of free supplies. MFTA gives them the tools they need to connect New Yorkers with cultural programs throughout the Summer of NYC.”
Throughout the rest of July, MFTA’s freight truck, filled with markers, paper, ribbons, fabric, furniture, office supplies and other reusable materials, will visit neighborhoods in each borough, targeting areas that might have a harder time accessing transportation to MFTA’s facility at 33-00 Northern Blvd. At designated stops, staff will provide materials to MFTA member arts organizations and DOE schools and, as always, the supplies will be provided free of charge.
“We are overjoyed to provide materials needed to support dynamic arts programming across the five boroughs, as our city’s art organizations and institutions reopen, and schools begin summer programming,” Materials for the Arts Managing Director Tara Sansone said. “It is necessary to support the arts in every corner of NYC, and we are especially proud to bring supplies to communities across the city.”
In order to demonstrate how to use the unique variety of materials offered, the MFTA Education team will offer hands-on workshops teaching shoppers how to incorporate nontraditional art materials into projects. NYC nonprofits, arts organizations, and schools interested in receiving supplies should visit MFTA’s website here.
“It is so exciting for DOE schools citywide to have greater access to supplies and programming that supports arts education, especially in this time of reinvigoration and recovery,” NYC DOE Director of Sustainability Meredith McDermott said. “The mission and knowledge that MFTA provides is unique, immersive, and also creatively supports sustainability. We are so grateful to our partners at MFTA for providing this Citywide Tour, as it will certainly allow more students and educators to reconnect through memorable, enjoyable teaching and learning this summer and beyond.”