Dumpster Diving to Promote the Arts

By Katy Tur
|  Friday, May 27, 2011  |  Updated 11:06 PM EDT
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Dumpster Diving to Promote the Arts

MFTA

Since 1978, Materials for the Arts has provided thousands of New York City's arts and cultural organizations, public schools and community arts programs with the supplies they need to run and expand their programs.

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For the past 30 years, thousands of educators and not-for-profit workers have roamed the aisles of a Queens warehouse searching for supplies and goods discarded by companies and individuals that can be recycled into art.

Materials for the Arts in Long Island City takes in anything from bundles of birch logs to carpet remnants to spindles of un-needed fabric.  It’s like dumpster diving for corporate trash that can then be used to create art, fashion and furnishings.

“Things that are not important to someone else, really become the lifeblood to another organization or their members,” explained Harriet Taub, the Executive Director of Materials for the Arts which operate under New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Every Tuesday and Thursday non-profits are welcome to sign in and shop.

While all non-profits are welcome, there’s one group that seems to be the biggest beneficiary -- The Department of Education.  DOE and MFTA have developed a symbiotic relationship over the years – as teachers from struggling schools find immeasurable opportunities to promote creativity in the  classroom with MFTA goods.
 
NBC New York visited one teacher at PS 150 in Sunnyside, Queens where drama teacher Joseph Pagano was putting his recent MFTA loot to good use – brainstorming costume ideas with his 4th graders for their next school play, Beauty and the Beast.  Pagano couldn’t put a number on how valuable MFTA has been to his students.

“This is a Title 1 Community. Most of the kids are first generation from over a 130 different countries and they’re struggling,” said Pagano. “Wonderful parents, wonderful kids, great community, but monetarily we are in tough shape here.”

First the 8 and 9-year-old students drew out their ideas on paper, then they brought them to life with what could have easily been just more landfill junk.

What begins as awkward dress up soon will turn into a fine tuned masterpiece when Beauty and the Beast hits the stage next fall – proving that one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure.

If you would like to learn more about the Materials for the Arts including how to donate click through to its website:  http://www.mfta.org/

You can follow Katy on Twitter @KatyTur4NY
 

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