News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2022

PRESS CONTACTS: (Materials for the Arts - NYC Cultural Affairs) (The Joyce Theater) (Karen Brooks Hopkins)


Over 11,000 pairs of dance shoes donated by Ocean State Job Lot will be distributed to NYC dancers, dance organizations, and public schools

Photos of Materials for the Arts, the donated shoes, and the 2/22 ribbon cutting event are available here.

Queens, NYMaterials for the Arts (MFTA), a program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), The Joyce Theater, and Karen Brooks Hopkins, President Emerita of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and author of the new memoir, “BAM…And Then It Hit Me,” today announced The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway. Made possible by a donation from Rhode Island-based retailer, Ocean State Job Lot, over 11,000 pairs of dance shoes will be made available, free of charge, to hundreds of New York City-based dancers, dance organizations, and public schools across the five boroughs. A kickoff donation event will be held at Materials for the Arts, NYC’s premier creative reuse center dedicated to supporting arts organizations, public schools, and city agencies with free supplies, on February 22 and 24.

“As our city continues to bound, leap, and pirouette toward a broad, equitable recovery, The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway brings incredible support to dance organizations and public schools across the five boroughs of New York City," said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. "The arts are fundamental for the well-being of New York City, and I commend this initiative’s vision for increased access, equitability, and sustainability."

"Nothing brings people together like live performances and joyful, collective movement. As our city’s dancers and performing arts organizations continue to return to stages large and small, we’re overjoyed to distribute this spectacular donation of dance shoes in support of their work," said Materials for the Arts Executive Director Tara Sansone. "I thank all of our partners for making this donation possible and supporting the arts in New York City."

“I am thrilled that my brother’s company, Ocean State, has made this remarkable ‘giveaway’ possible. Thousands of dance shoes- ballet slippers, tap shoes, jazz boots…the works - are exactly what New York needs to ‘bounce back’ or should I say ‘leap up’ and out of this pandemic! I am also excited that the event is fortuitously occurring in conjunction with the publication of my memoir, BAM…And Then It Hit Me, which celebrates the creative life of our city,” said President Emerita of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Karen Brooks Hopkins.

“When my good friend Karen Brooks Hopkins asked me to help giveaway – for free – thousands of dance shoes, I was overjoyed to help. With the assistance of our city’s own Materials for the Arts providing massive logistical support, The Joyce Theater’s broad and diverse family of schools, students, teachers, and artists will benefit immeasurably. This bit of bright warmth amidst an otherwise overwhelmingly challenging period is simply wonderful,” said Linda Shelton, Executive Director of The Joyce Theater Foundation

“All of us at Ocean State love the thought that, through this donation, so many young people will be able to participate in the great world of dance!” said Ocean State Job Lot Senior Merchandise Manager Marlene Bellini.

The extraordinary donation of over 11,000 pairs of adult and children’s tap shoes, ballet slippers, and jazz boots was coordinated by Karen Brooks Hopkins, in partnership with her brother, Ron Brooks, a supervisor/buyer for the Rhode-Island based retailer Ocean State Job Lot. As part of a recent purchase, Ocean State acquired thousands of dance shoes to make them available for free to students and dancers and collaborated with Brooks Hopkins to provide a vehicle to distribute these shoes.

Working with the Joyce Theater’s executive director, Linda Shelton, Brooks Hopkins connected with dancers and dance groups across the city and DCLA’s Materials for the Arts program to distribute the shoes. DCLA’s Materials for the Arts program distributes free supplies to thousands of arts organizations and public schools in New York City. The arts have kept New Yorkers connected and lifted the spirits of millions, as our city continues to recover. The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway will support arts and culture throughout all five boroughs of New York City.

“Queens has no shortage of notable dance groups that represent countless cultures from across the world. We’re so excited to have this Queens-based program support our dance organizations, students and more with indispensable free dance shoes, as they enrich our neighbors and beyond with their art,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Thank you Materials for the Arts, The Joyce Theater, Karen Brooks Hopkins and Ocean State Job Lot for your efforts to elevate our dance communities.”

"It's thrilling to see a public-private partnership have such a powerful impact on our city's cultural affairs. The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway will provide hundreds and organizations and individuals with the important, but sometimes expensive, materials necessary to carry out their craft — both to their benefit and to the benefit of all New Yorkers who get to enjoy and appreciate the art made possible by this event," said Council Member Chi Ossé, Chair of the Committee of Cultural Affairs and Libraries.

"This donation of 11,000 dance shoes will have an immediate and seismic impact on our young dancers throughout our NYC public schools and we are grateful to Materials for the Arts for organizing "The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway!" said Shirlene Blake, NYC Department of Education Director of Dance.

Dance organizations and public schools with performance arts programming interested in receiving dance shoes via The Great Dance Shoe Giveaway are required to make an appointment online at the Materials for the Arts website. In addition to dance shoes, dance costumes donated by From Our Hearts to Our Toes, a nonprofit that collects lightly-worn dance costumes, will be available at the distribution. All year long, MFTA provides an array of supplies including donated fabric, paper supply, buttons, beads, trim, small props, furniture, paint, electronics, and office supplies. Organizations interested in becoming members of Materials for the Arts may complete an application.

Media interested in covering the Great Dance Shoe Give may visit Materials for the Arts on the following dates. Please contact to RSVP.

  • Tuesday, February 22 – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Thursday, February 24 – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Dance shoe distribution is likely to continue after the distribution event dates, please contact for more information after those dates.

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 over 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 Karen Brooks Hopkins

Karen Brooks Hopkins is president emerita of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where she worked for 36 years, including 16 as its president. As president, Hopkins oversaw the institution’s 230 full-time employees and its multiple theaters and cinemas, ranging from the 2,100-seat Howard Gilman Opera House to the flexible 250-seat Fishman Space. Brooklyn’s own powerhouse Books will publish “BAM… And Then It Hit Me,” a memoir of her tenure at the legendary arts organization in March. The audiobook is available from Audible.

Among her notable achievements, Karen was designated a “Woman of Achievement” by the professional association, Women in Development in 2013, and in the same year was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by Crain’s New York Business. Among the many honors BAM has received during her tenure is the 2014 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts organizations by the US government. President Obama presented the medal to Hopkins at a White House ceremony in 2014. In 2015, Hopkins was one of ten esteemed business leaders appointed to the inaugural Crain’s Hall of Fame. She was a member of the New York State of Regents from 2010-2015 and currently serves as Senior Advisor and Board Member of the Onassis Foundation.

About The Joyce Theater

The Joyce Theater Foundation (“The Joyce,” Executive Director, Linda Shelton), a non-profit organization, has proudly served the dance community for almost four decades. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation acquired and renovated the Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Opening as The Joyce Theater in 1982, it was named in honor of Joyce Mertz, beloved daughter of LuEsther T. Mertz. It was LuEsther’s clear, undaunted vision and abundant generosity that made it imaginable and ultimately possible to build the theater. Ownership was secured by The Joyce in 2015. The theater is one of the only theaters built by dancers for dance and has provided an intimate and elegant home for over 400 U.S.-based and international companies. The Joyce has also expanded its reach beyond its Chelsea home through off-site presentations at venues ranging in scope from Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater to Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, and to outdoor programming in spaces such as Hudson River Park. To further support the creation of new work, The Joyce maintains longstanding commissioning and residency programs. Local students and teachers (K–12th grade) benefit from its school program, and family and adult audiences get closer to dance with access to artists. The Joyce’s annual season of about 48 weeks of dance now includes over 340 performances – both digital and in-person – for audiences in excess of 150,000.

About Ocean State Job Lot

Ocean State Job Lot is the largest closeout retailer in the Northeast. We opened our first store on August 15, 1977 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. We started the business with the idea that people work hard for their money, so if we can help them stretch their dollars by saving them money, we’ll be successful. So far, so good! Today we have more than 140 stores, and have expanded our reach well beyond the Ocean State, operating stores in all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

As Ocean State Job Lot has grown, our responsibility to the communities where we live and work has become a major focus. Charitable giving is extremely important to our company. We are value seekers, and that means we are able to make a dollar go further than most. This helps us make significant contributions to a variety of important causes such as children’s literacy, health care, veteran support and fighting hunger.

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