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Materials for the Arts Featured in Global Report Highlighting the Intersection of Culture and Climate Change

The report from the World Cities Culture Forum – titled “Culture and Climate Change – Handbook for City Leaders” - highlights policies and programs from across the globe that cities can follow in their efforts to address climate change

Queens, NY - Materials for the Arts (MFTA) – New York City’s premier environmental and cultural program which reduces landfill waste by diverting usable goods back into the community - is featured in a newly released publication by the World Cities Culture Forum’s Policy and Practice Series called “Culture and Climate Change”. The report details 14 case studies covering four continents, ranging from Taipei’s efforts to engage citizens in participatory design for public parks to Los Angeles’ initiative to raise awareness about water issues through public art.

“We are incredibly proud of Materials for the Arts and its nearly 40-year history of leadership in providing one-of-a-kind support for New York City’s cultural and educational ecosystems,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “It’s wonderful to see it receive the recognition it deserves in the World Cities 'Culture and Climate Change' handbook alongside other leaders from across the globe. MFTA provides a simple, powerful example of how culture can drive collaborations across sectors toward a more equitable and sustainable future for our cities."

“Our nearly four decades of work in the field of reuse and waste reduction- educating the public on the merits and importance of sustainability, creative reuse and arts education- should serve as a model of what can be accomplished and replicated in cities across the globe,” said Materials for the Arts Executive Director Harriet Taub.

Culture and Climate Change provides a global survey of how world cities are integrating their creativity and climate agendas. Produced in partnership with the C40 Climate Leadership Group and cultural sustainability consultancy Julie’s Bicycle, the handbook provides actionable solutions for mayors and city leaders to address the question of how culture can help cities achieve their goals to create a more environmentally sustainable future and how cities can incorporate cultural approaches to combat climate change.

“Mayors and their administrations have in culture and the creative industries a brilliant rallying point to focus their climate change agenda – to get their message to new audiences, increase public engagement, and drive behavior change,” says Paul Owens, Director of the World Cities Culture Forum. “The cultural sector is ready and willing to join the cause and with Culture and Climate Change, we are providing them with a framework to get there.”

MFTA is a program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Each year MFTA diverts nearly 2 million pounds of materials donated by businesses and individuals seeking an environmentally friendly method of discarding surplus or unwanted items.

Considered a global leader in alternative waste diversion, for 39 years MFTA has led the charge as environmental stewards redirecting available goods back into its ever-expanding cultural network of over 4,700 member organizations which include cultural organizations of all sizes and disciplines across New York. MFTA members also include 1,913 public schools in all five boroughs, which utilize the warehouse and its education programming to support and enhance arts education for hundreds of thousands of students every year. By bringing together so many stakeholders – from its corporate and individual donors, to the schools and nonprofit members – MFTA is a key cross-sector component of achieving OneNYC’s goal to stop sending waste to landfills by the year 2030.

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated in 2016 “this program is essential to our city as it engages the public on the importance of creative reuse in improving all five boroughs, provides an innovative model that inspires similar programs around the world, and serves to support the creative community while working to drastically reduce waste.”

This model has been duplicated around the world in other cities including Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and London. Its inclusion in the Culture and Climate Change handbook will help to further promote this simple yet powerful model for supporting culture while improving sustainability.

About the World Cities Culture Summit
Over 35 cities gathered in Seoul between November 1st-3rd to engage with these ideas as part of the annual World Cities Culture Summit, building on the case studies presented in the handbook to workshop current approaches to aligning environment and culture as well as identifying gaps and opportunities for future action in their cities. The action taken by these cities within the next four years will determine the possibility of global compliance with the Paris Agreement and ensuring a climate safe future, according to C40. Their Deadline 2020 Report estimates that action within urban areas could deliver around 40% of the savings needed to achieve the ambition of limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The time to act is now, and culture can be a vital tool to meet this challenge. 

About Materials for the Arts
Materials for the Arts collects a wide variety of reusable materials from businesses and individuals throughout NYC, diverting almost 2 million pounds annually from the landfill. MFTA was the recipient of the 2016 EPA Environmental Champion Award in the Public Sector marking a significant accomplishment for the de Blasio Administration’s One NYC Zero Waste by 2030 commitment.

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 nonprofit 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.