NPA Vancouver City Councillor Elizabeth Ball calls on the City to establish a “Materials for the Arts” Creative Reuse Program

July 23, 2018, Vancouver, B.C. – NPA City Councillor Elizabeth Ball is calling on the City of Vancouver to establish a new arts-related program modelled on New York City’s highly successful “Materials for the Arts” (MFTA) program. She will be bringing forward a motion to Vancouver City Council this week. Councillor Ball’s motion (appended below) notes that that New York’s “Materials for the Arts” program facilitates the creative reuse of materials by the arts and culture and educational communities that might otherwise end up in the landfill or go to an incinerator.

Councillor Ball says a program modelled on “Materials for the Arts” would not only support Vancouver’s arts and culture community, and educational institutions, including the Vancouver School Board, it would also provide a new mechanism for diverting usable materials from the City’s waste stream for creative reuse and support the City’s target to reduce solid waste going to the landfill or an incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels as well as the goal to achieve zero waste by 2040.

“A vibrant arts and cultural scene is important to any truly liveable city. The arts bring incredible value to the lives of our citizens and to the life of our city. 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, who had the opportunity to explore MFTA while working on Broadway and saw how well this amazing program worked.

According to MFTA’s website, the program diverts over one million pounds of materials from the landfill each year by collecting reusable materials from businesses and individuals. MFTA makes these donations available free of charge to various arts, culture, non-profit, and educational organizations and individuals. By diverting these materials from New York’s waste stream, MFTA reportedly offsets the equivalent of 25 times the CO2 emissions absorbed annually by the trees in New York’s Central Park.

As background, Ball’s motion makes reference to the Vancouver Charter which requires Vancouver City Council to prepare and adopt a Regional Context Statement in support of the Regional Growth Strategy. The City’s context statement shows how Vancouver’s polices and plans work toward achieving the goals and strategies set out in the Regional Growth Strategy, including fostering the creation of vibrant centres of culture and community activities, maintaining an attractive and diverse urban environment, building healthy, complete communities, and ensuring the basics of life – breathable air, potable water, and nutritious food.

Ball’s motion also makes note of the City of Vancouver’s Culture Plan – which has a core vision to develop, enliven, enhance, and promote arts, culture, and cultural diversity in Vancouver, including a Cultural Grants Program that supports a wide range of arts and cultural activity – as well as the City’s Creative City Strategy which aims to work with the arts, culture, and creative communities. The Creative City Plan seeks to identify priorities that can guide Vancouver’s future efforts and investments, including a firm commitment to address equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as to build a culture of reconciliation through close collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Ball notes that all of these arts, culture, sustainability, environmental, equity, inclusion, and educational objectives can be enhanced and supported through the establishment of a “Materials for the Arts” program in Vancouver.

In addition to exploring the establishment of a “Materials for the Arts” program, Ball’s motion also calls for City staff to explore options and opportunities for the creation of a non-profit support entity similar to New York’s “Friends of Materials for the Arts” – which has a mandate to support initiatives in the areas of education and community outreach to serve a broader audience.

New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs operates the “Materials for the Arts” program with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education. The program includes an efficient online donations system as well as robust education and volunteer programs.

The text of Councillor Ball’s motion is appended below.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca.

Establishing a “Materials for the Arts” Creative Reuse Program in the City of Vancouver

MOVER: Councillor Ball
SECONDER: Councillor De Genova

WHEREAS

1. A vibrant arts and cultural scene is important to any truly liveable city;

2. Vancouver City Council and the City of Vancouver appreciate the value the arts bring to the lives of our citizens and to the life of our city;

3. The City of Vancouver has a Culture Plan with the core vision to develop, enliven, enhance, and promote arts, culture, and cultural diversity in Vancouver, including a Cultural Grants Program that supports a wide range of arts and cultural activity;

4. The City of Vancouver has a Creative City Strategy that aims to work with the arts, culture, and creative communities to identify priorities to guide Vancouver’s future efforts and investments, including a firm commitment to address equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as to build a culture of reconciliation through close collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations;

5. Vancouver City Council’s longstanding support for arts and culture has resulted in a city that is alive with creativity, whether it be amazing music, dance, new media, theatre, festivals, film, design, exhibitions, galleries, museums, or special arts and culture events;

6. Vancouver’s arts and cultural community is an ecosystem made up of many stakeholders, diverse media, infrastructure, and processes that intersect and work alongside each other in many different ways;

7. The Vancouver Charter requires Vancouver City Council to prepare and adopt a Regional Context Statement in support of the Regional Growth Strategy to show how Vancouver’s polices and plans work toward achieving the goals and strategies set out in the Regional Growth Strategy including fostering the creation  of vibrant centres of culture and community activities, maintaining an attractive and diverse urban environment, building healthy, complete communities, and ensuring the basics of life – breathable air, potable water, and nutritious food;

8. Under the Greenest City Action Plan, the City of Vancouver has a strategy for staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability, and has established a target to reduce solid waste going to the landfill or an incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels, with a long-term strategic vision to achieve the goal of zero waste by 2040;

9. Many materials that might otherwise end up in the landfill, or go to an incinerator, have the potential for creative reuse by Vancouver’s diverse arts and culture community;

10. “Materials for the Arts” (MFTA) – founded in 1978 – is New York City’s largest creative reuse centre and is dedicated to supporting arts and cultural organizations;

11. Millions of students, choreographers, dancers, actors, set designers, art therapists, after school providers and senior citizens have been positively impacted by the work of MFTA over the years;

12. MFTA diverts over 1 million pounds of materials from the landfill each year by collecting reusable materials from businesses and individuals and making these donations available for free of charge to various arts, culture, non-profit, and educational organizations and individuals;

13. By diverting materials from New York’s waste stream, MFTA annually offsets 25 times the CO2 emissions from the trees in New York’s Central Park;

14. MFTA’s 35,000-square-foot warehouse is operated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education, and included an efficient online donations system as well as robust education and volunteer programs;

15. MFTA is supported in part by the “Friends of Materials for the Arts” as a non-profit partner with a mandate to support initiatives in the areas of education and community outreach to serve a broader audience.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Vancouver City Council direct staff to explore the creation of a “Materials for the Arts” program in the City of Vancouver, with the goal to support the city’s arts and culture community and educational institutions including the Vancouver School Board, while also providing a new mechanism for diverting usable materials from the City’s waste stream for creative reuse by the city’s arts and culture community, and for staff to report back to Council in early October 2018 with preliminary recommendations;

FURTHER THAT Vancouver City Council also direct staff to explore options and opportunities for a non-profit support entity similar to New York’s “Friends of Materials for the Arts”.