Last week Lori, Jeso and I took a trip to Materials for the Arts in Queens to look for supplies for our upcoming Season Launch Party. If you’ve never been, MFTA is part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs which collects donations of art supplies, fabric and office materials to distribute to arts organizations free of charge. To visit you need to be a non-profit and you need to make an appointment.
Since you’re planning it so far in advance, there is an urge to to make a list of things you are looking find. This would seem like a good idea but it’s often a waste of time because you end up finding stuff there that you never thought you needed or never expected to see in this lifetime. For example one of the first things we saw when we walked in was a giant bin of plastic lobsters. And then there was the whole shelf of electric lazy susans. There was the “Bored to Death” branded bowling ball, and the scale model of a Greek shrine. We left with a fairly modest bounty: some nice fabric for covering tables at the Season Launch party, a bin for holding ice and beer at the party, a circular saw and one of those privacy screens for laptops so people on the plane can’t see when you’re watching “not safe for work” videos of past PS122 performances.
When we were walking back to the car with our haul we talked about a funny after-effect of visiting MFTA, which is that for a few hours after visiting it’s dangerous to go to other stores because you have the “this is all free” mindset. At Materials for the Arts you’re limited only by your imagination, how much you can fit in your car, and how many thank you letters you’re willing to write to donors.