Art is one of the foundations of modern culture, and programs that nurture and support the creative spirit are vital to any society. New York City is a bastion of the arts, and there are many fantastic organizations that help to fund children’s art programs, creative outreach, and other related initiatives. This holiday season gives us a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for visual art, dance, music, and theater by helping to support local arts programs in a variety of ways. From sharing materials to be recycled/upcycled, taking part in public creative ventures, or even donating a few dollars towards your art form of choice, you can help to keep the creative heart of NYC beating.

Arts programs, NYC art programs, donations for art programs, volunteer, NYC arts

Image via Materials for the Arts blog

The Liman Foundation Matching Grant

Are you familiar with Materials for the Arts? They’ve been providing NYC arts organizations with free art supplies for the last 35 years, so you can only imagine how many creative minds have been nurtured by their generosity. MFTA serves over 4,000 schools, community groups and non-profits with arts programming and materials, and they’re staunch supporters of recycling/upcycling and other eco-friendly initiatives.

This holiday season, Materials for the Arts has a particularly special program in place: The Liman Foundation is matching gift contributions dollar for dollar up to $25,000 until December 31st. All contributions will directly support MFTA’s programming, which in turn will spiral out to help public schools and cultural community centers across NYC, so your donation to them will have double the impact. You can also choose to donate materials or volunteer time instead of a monetary donation.

Arts programs, NYC art programs, donations for art programs, volunteer, NYC arts

Image of Luca Buvoli’s mural via NYC Department of Education 

Public Art for Public Schools

Founded in 1989, Public Art for Public Schools is a program that is dedicated to commissioning new projects for new schools, and both maintaining and preserve artwork in existing schools. Their hope is for every school in NYC to possess at least one professional piece of art, thereby enhancing the learning environment visually, educationally, and artistically.

If you’re a professional artist or art educator, you can donate something absolutely vital to this program: your time or your work. Arts professionals are commissioned to collaborate with students to create new art pieces for their schools (which is likely to result in greater appreciation by the students and lessened vandalism), and pro artists are also encouraged to donate their own work as well.

Arts programs, NYC art programs, donations for art programs, volunteer, NYC arts

 Image via the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

Art in the Parks

New York City first showed its commitment to public art in the late 1960s, when Parks and Rec organized an outdoor art exhibit entitled Sculpture in Environment. Their goal was to let works of art “loose in the city” so people would have the opportunity to see (and interact with) them during daily walks and errands. Since these daily sojourns may be the only time that many folks have the chance to view and enjoy art, it’s of vital importance to keep the program. Additionally, associating public parks and outdoor spaces as sacred locales for fine art encourages people to keep those areas well maintained and free from litter.

When you donate in support of New York Parks and Recreation, you not only help to keep art available to the public, but also to keep gardens blooming. The plants and flowers that grace public parks create a calming, beautiful atmosphere to all who spend time near them, and the plants themselves help to nourish pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Arts programs, NYC art programs, donations for art programs, volunteer, NYC arts

Image via Sing for Hope

Sing for Hope: Art U!

This program benefits a number of different organizations around NYC, including youth outreach, community arts, and even health care support. Sing for Hope‘s mission is to make the arts accessible to all, as visual art, music, dance, and theatre have the unique power to transform, uplift, and unite both individuals and entire communities. They focus on under-resourced areas that might not otherwise have much exposure to creative experiences, and are as active in schools and special needs programs as they are in hospices and elder care facilities.

Singers, musicians, actors, puppeteers, photographers: all work together to bring brightness and art-fueled joy to people of all ages. They depend on community support, via both volunteers and donations, and are certainly a worthwhile cause to give to.