During the depths of the Great Depression
of the 1930s and into the early years of World War II, the
Federal government supported the arts in unprecedented ways.
For 11 years, between 1933 and 1943, federal tax dollars employed
artists, musicians, actors, writers, photographers, and dancers.
Never before or since has our government so extensively sponsored
the arts. MORE...
Visual artists, writers, filmmakers, and
playwrights concentrated many of their creative efforts on
the patterns of everyday life, especially the world of work.
A recurring theme was the strength and dignity of common men
and women, even as they faced difficult circumstances.
Most New Deal artists were grateful to
President Roosevelt for giving them work and enthusiastically
supported the New Deal's liberal agenda. Not surprisingly,
their art celebrated the progress made under Franklin Roosevelt
and promoted the President and his programs.
Many politically active artists worked
for the New Deal projects. United by a desire to use art to
promote social change, these artists sympathized with the
labor movement and exhibited an affinity for left-wing politics
ranging from New Deal liberalism to socialism to communism.
Most New Deal artist-administrators believed
deeply that the projects had a responsibility to reach out
to as many Americans as possible and to put art to practical
use. Such socially useful arts were not intended to create
masterpieces, but they did produce many excellent works, allowed
thousands of artists to pursue their vocation, and enriched
and informed the lives of Americans.