Coun. Elizabeth Ball pushes to establish creative reuse program modelled after New York’s Materials for the Arts

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      NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball will bring forward a motion to the City of Vancouver this week to create a new arts-centred program modelled on New York City’s Materials for the Arts (MFTA) program.

      Ball’s motion refers to the successful MFTA program and its creative reuse of materials that may otherwise make their way into the landfill by the arts and culture and educational communities.
      Ball says a program based on MFTA would support Vancouver’s arts and culture community and educational institutions like the Vancouver School Board. It would also contribute to the City’s goal to reduce solid waste in incinerators and landfills by 50 percent from its 2008 levels. According to Ball’s motion, the reuse program would help the City reach its goal of zero waste by 2040.

      Ball had the opportunity to experience MFTA first-hand while working on Broadway in New York City, and was extremely impressed.

      “’Materials for the Arts’ has positively impacted millions of New York students, choreographers, dancers, actors, set designers, art therapists, after school providers, and senior citizens since it was established in 1978. I believe the program should be replicated in Vancouver,” said Ball in a press release today.

      MFTA’s website states that the program saves more than one million pounds of materials from landfills each year by gathering reusable materials from people and businesses. The materials are free of charge and available to numerous arts, culture, non-profit, and educational organizations.

      Creative reuse is about rethinking one's relationship to “waste” and merging creativity with sustainability, the MFTA website states.

      “A vibrant arts and cultural scene is important to any truly livable city,” said Ball in the press release. “The arts bring incredible value to the lives of our citizens and to the life of our city.”

      Through the reuse program, MFTA reportedly deters the equivalent of 25 times the CO2 emissions absorbed every year by trees in New York City’s Central Park. 
      Ball’s motion refers to Vancouver City Council’s Regional Context Statement, which outlines Vancouver’s plans and policies  to achieve goals such as fostering the creation of vibrant culture and community, nurturing a diverse urban environmen, and building healthy communities. The statement also mentions ensuring breathable air, potable water, and nutritious food.
      The motion similarly refers to the City of Vancouver’s Culture Plan to develop and promote arts, culture, and cultural diversity in Vancouver. Ball argues that all the arts, culture, sustainability, environmental, equity, inclusion, and educational objectives outlined in the Culture Plan can be supported and accelerated through the establishment of a Vancouver-based Materials for the Arts  program.
      Ball is calling on City staff to investigate opportunities for the creation of a nonprofit support program similar to New York’s Friends of Materials for the Arts. The program supports initiatives that favour education and community outreach with aims to serve a far-reaching audience.