The Works Project Administration
The establishment of the Works Project Administration (WPA) on October 14, 1935 signaled the start of wide scale Government support of the arts in America. The mission of the WPA, which was created as a part of the New Deal, was two fold: Its first purpose was to help create employment in depression era America, offering artists minimum wages for commissioned works of art and teaching posts.
|In 1932, before the WPA, the painter William
H. Johnson, for example wrote from abroad, "Will you please
see if I am eligible to be a teacher in some art department in a Negro college
or university or school some place in the U.S.A.-- for I must be able to
make a living some place." In 1938, upon Johnson's return he was
commissioned by the WPA to paint murals. The WPA also acted as a catalyst
|With the start of World War II and the end of the Depression, the WPA was halted. Today we are virtually without
federal support for the arts. And the two major federal programs that support creativity in America are under fire.
Without the WPA and similar programs, many of our greatest African American writers and artists would never have
had the chance to create or display their works.