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‘Materials for the Arts’ joins LIC culture

The city's Materials for the Arts program is relocating to Long Island City in March to expand operations and improve its services to public schools and social, health, and community service organizations.

MFA, in partnership with the Department of Sanitation and Board of Education, over the years has turned 3,000 tons of the city's discards -- furniture, computers, fabrics, paper, paints, construction supplies -- into high-quality artistic materials, valued at more than $25 million in total. Every year, MFA donates the end products to 2,100 of the city's cultural programs.

"MFA's program serves to reduce the city's waste stream while also supporting our arts institutions and public school arts programs by supplying them with reusable materials," said mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Harriet Taub, the newly-appointed director of MFA, said MFA will be doubling its warehouse space, improving its services, adding more shopping days, and hiring additional staff.

MFA will be joining other arts organizations in L.I.C. which is the home of the Museum of Modern Art's new building, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, and the Socrates Sculpture Park.

The Board of Education recently increased its participation in the program, from 189 registered public schools in 1998 to 1,030 today. Jonathan Levi, executive assistant to Schools Chancellor Harold Levy, said, "Our partnership with Materials for the Arts has succeeded beyond all expectations. More than 1,000 schools are now registered with MFA. Full of imagination and creative vision, our arts teachers have mined MFA's warehouses for reusable resources that our students transform into stage sets, costumes and works of art."

"MFA has been an invaluable source and resource for me, making it possible to supply my students with stimulating and unusual materials in a volume I could not otherwise afford," said Terry Kramer, an art teacher at Public School 32. "Being around other art teachers and artists during our shopping expeditions makes MFA an idea exchange as well."

MFA serves 800 arts and cultural organizations, 1,030 public schools, 300 social service agencies with arts programs, and 125 city programs. The New York Hall of Science and Queens Opera are two Queens organizations that have benefited from the program.

Producers of "Law and Order," the NBC series based in New York, have donated props, including mannequins, compact discs, desks, and cabinets. Sequins International, a business in Queens, has given more than 7 tons of sequin honeycomb during the last two years, most of which have been used in theatrical productions and art classes. Actor B. D. Wong has donated craft items, fabrics, baskets, lamps and mirrors.

The program has also been replicated throughout the United States, including California, Georgia, Texas, and Iowa, as well as in Japan and Britain.

To donate or receive materials, call 718-729-3001.

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