News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 13, 2022  

Contact:; 929-313-7624


Through the end of September, MFTA encourages teachers to stock up with free supplies as students return to the classroom

Commissioner Cumbo and a large group of people in the MFTA warehouse smile and throw confetti. 

 Photo by Corazon Aguirre. Courtesy of MFTA.

 Photos and videos from the kickoff event are available here.  

Queens, NY – On September 13, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, Materials for the Arts (MFTA) Executive Director Tara Sansone, and NYC Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects Executive Director Paul Thompson officially kicked off MFTA’s annual Back to School Shopping Spree. For the 2022 Back to School Shopping Spree, teachers in all subject areas are invited to access the vast array of free supplies available in MFTA's 35,000 square-foot warehouse. From basics like paper and markers to more unusual items like movie props and mannequins, MFTA is a go-to source of free supplies for NYC teachers, nonprofits, agencies, and arts groups. Educators who want to join the spree can visit MFTA’s website and schedule an appointment online. While the Back to School Shopping Spree continues through September 29, teachers are welcome to visit MFTA for free supplies all year long.
"We are thrilled that class is back in session and to celebrate we're inviting educators to our 'Back to School Shopping Spree' to give them the tools they need to bring engaging arts activities into the classroom," said NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. "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. 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.”
“We are overjoyed to host our annual ‘Back to School Shopping Spree’ in the MFTA warehouse once again,” said MFTA Executive Director Tara Sansone. "Materials for the Arts is an extraordinary resource for teachers looking to infuse their lessons with engaging, hands-on arts 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. We’re thrilled to welcome teachers to ‘shop’ at Materials for the Arts as they prepare for the start of the school year.” 
“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. We are grateful to the Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo and MFTA Executive Director Tara Sansone for this fruitful collaboration that impacts students across the city,” said Executive Director of the DOE Office of Arts and Special Projects, Paul J. Thompson.
"I'm thrilled that this great program is returning just in time for the start of the new school year," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. "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 in Long Island City!"

MFTA welcomes teachers to visit the warehouse all year long. But the Back to School Shopping Spree provides an opportunity for them to start the school year with fresh supplies, and to learn about the wide range of resources available through the MFTA Education Center. These include creative reuse field trips, in-school residencies, and professional development classes, through which teachers can earn P-Credits and CTLE hours (MFTA’s fall professional development courses begin September 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. 

Media interested in covering the 2022 Back to School Shopping Spree are welcome to visit the warehouse during the following “shopping days.” RSVP to

  • 15 – 1:00PM – 5:00PM
  • 20 – 10:00AM – 2:00PM
  • 22 – 1:00PM – 5:00PM
  • 27 – 10:00AM – 2:00PM
  • 29 – 1:00PM – 5:00PM

About Materials for the Arts (MFTA)
A program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Department of Education and Friends of Materials for the Arts, MFTA is NYC’s largest reuse center supporting nonprofits with arts programming, public schools, and City agencies. On average MFTA collects about 1.5 million pounds of supplies each year which it provides, free of charge, to its member organizations. In addition to providing materials, MFTA has an Artist-in-Residence program and holds public events every third Thursday of the month which include gallery openings and community workshops. Learn more at

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit