A Silver Lining

The Fireside—News and Views from The Living New Deal

A Silver Lining

 “Mercury,” 1939

“Mercury,” 1939
Bas Relief, by Peter Paul Ott for the Kedzie-Grace Post Office, Chicago
Courtesy, New Deal Art Registry

With the economy in shambles and one in four workers unemployed, FDR appointed Harry Hopkins to come up with programs to provide relief. Public works projects would provide millions of jobs and become the backbone of the economic recovery. Hopkins recognized that artists, too, needed work. “Hell,” he said, “they’ve got to eat just like other people!”
The WPA’s Federal Arts Project hired thousands of visual artists to produce paintings, murals, prints, crafts and sculptures for the government buildings being constructed throughout the country. The Federal Music Project and Federal Theater Project hired thousands more, bringing the performing arts to cities and towns, alike. The Great Depression cast a dark cloud over the nation. The New Deal arts programs were the silver lining.

 

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