Materials for the Arts providing NYC public school teachers with free supplies from Long Island City warehouse

school supplies
Materials for the Arts hosts its annual ‘Back to School Shopping Spree’ with free supplies to NYC public school teachers at its Long Island City warehouse. (Courtesy of MFTA)

With inflation remaining near a 40-year high, Materials for the Arts (MFTA) in Long Island City is providing relief to New York City public school teachers and access to a vast array of free supplies available in its massive warehouse on Northern Boulevard, from basics such as paper and markers to unusual items like movie props and mannequins.

MFTA prides itself on becoming a go-to source of free supplies for educators, nonprofits, agencies and art groups.

“We are overjoyed to host our annual ‘Back to School Shopping Spree’ in the MFTA warehouse once again,” MFTA Executive Director Tara Sansone said. “Materials for the Arts is an extraordinary resource for teachers looking to infuse their lessons with engaging, hands-on art projects. I’m always amazed by the incredible exhibitions, theater productions, murals, and visual arts projects that students and teachers create using supplies they discover in our warehouse.”

Located at 33-00 Northern Blvd., the warehouse is NYC’s largest reuse center. On average MFTA collects about 1.5 million pounds of supplies each year which it provides, free of charge, to its member organizations.

(Photo courtesy of MFTA)

“I’m thrilled that this great program is returning just in time for the new school year,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Arts are a critical aspect of our children’s education. Teachers deserve to have access to the best materials available so that they can provide our students with the best experience possible. To our teachers: we thank you for your work. Enjoy your shopping spree on Long Island City.”

MFTA is a program of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and it welcomes teachers to the warehouse all year long, but the Back to School Shopping Spree provides an opportunity for them to launch the new academic year with fresh supplies. They can also learn about the wide range of resources available through the MFTA Education Center, which includes creative reuse field trips, in-school artist residencies, and professional development classes through which teachers can earn P-Credits and CTLE hours (MFTA’s fall professional development courses begin Sept. 24; learn more here).

The MFTA Online Education Center – created as a remote resource during the pandemic – continues to offer diverse, engaging creative reuse lesson plans and activities that educators can access free of charge.

“The Materials for the Arts warehouse is a treasure trove of essential supplies and unusual objects, and the MFTA Education Center serves as an incredible resource for teachers seeking to integrate creative reuse into their classroom,” NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo said. “With our colleagues at MFTA and the Department of Education, we’re committed to giving our students access to the extraordinary power of the arts to inspire the next generation of artists and creative thinkers.”

Legendary singer and songwriter Paul Simon became so enamored with MFTA during a tour of its facility that the Kew Gardens native played a benefit concert in the warehouse on Northern Boulevard in 2017. Educators who want to join the spree can visit MFTA’s website and schedule an appointment. While the Back to School Shopping Spree continues through Sept. 29, teachers are welcome to visit MFTA for free supplies all year long.

“The New York City public schools are thrilled to continue supporting Materials for the Arts. Materials for the Arts provides free resources to our schools and teachers to support student art-making,” said Executive Director of the DOE Office of Arts and Special Projects, Paul J. Thompson. “We are grateful to the DCA Commissioner Laurie Cumbo and MFTA Executive Director Tara Sansone for this fruitful collaboration that impacts students across the city,”