Work Projects Administration

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Work Projects Administration

Work Projects Administration (WPA), former U.S. government agency, established in 1935 by executive order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the Works Progress Administration; it was renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939, when it was made part of the Federal Works Agency. Created when unemployment was widespread, the WPA—headed by Harry L. Hopkins until 1938—was designed to increase the purchasing power of persons on relief by employing them on useful projects. WPA's building program included the construction of 116,000 buildings, 78,000 bridges, and 651,000 mi (1,047,000 km) of road and the improvement of 800 airports. Also a part of WPA's diversified activities were the Federal Art Project, the Federal Writers' Project, and the Federal Theatre Project. Close to 10,000 drawings, paintings, and sculptured works were produced through WPA, and many public buildings (especially post offices) were decorated with murals. The experiments in theatrical productions were highly praised and introduced many fresh ideas. Musical performances under the project averaged 4,000 a month. The most notable product of writers in WPA was a valuable series of state and regional guidebooks. WPA also conducted an education program and supervised the activities of the National Youth Administration. At its peak WPA had about 3.5 million persons on its payrolls. Altogether WPA employed a total of 8.5 million persons, and total federal appropriations for the program amounted to almost $11 billion. There was sharp criticism of the WPA in a Senate committee report in 1939; the same year the WPA appropriation was cut, several projects were abolished, and others were curtailed. A strike of thousands of WPA workers to prevent a cut in wages on building projects was unsuccessful. Steadily increasing employment in the private sector, much speeded just before and during World War II, caused further drastic cuts in WPA appropriations and payrolls. In June, 1943, the agency officially went out of existence.


See D. S. Howard, WPA and Federal Relief Policy (1943).

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References in periodicals archive ?
While photographing the Bowery and ManhattanAEs skid row, under the auspices of the DepressionAEs Federal Art Project, an older male supervisor warned her that nice girls donAEt go to the seamy side of town.
Mavigliano's books and articles follow his lifelong research into the workings of FDR's New Deal programs, the Works Progress Administration and, specifically, the Federal Art Project during the 1930s and early 1940s.
(16) The Section and The Project (The Federal Art Project which would later also be referred to as the WPA) existed simultaneously, and often artists working during the 1930s received financial compensation from both organizations.
In 1932, Cahill, a MoMA curator (and later the director of the New Deal's Federal Art Project) mounted the first exhibition of American folk art, bringing the quotidian into the white cube long before Campbell soup-can canvases came along.
Commissioned as part of the New Deal Agency Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project in 1941, this work serves both as a marker of a difficult period in the history of the US and the artistic development of the Post-Surrealist movement, as many of those artists involved, such as Clements and Feitelson, seized the opportunity afforded by the New Deal Agency.
She was also mentored by an older student, Tonita Pena, the sole Pueblo woman easel painter of her generation, whom Velarde met when they both painted murals at the school as part of a federal art project.
(10) Like the Federal Art Project, which documented American life in its various permutations through murals in public buildings, a number of FMP projects also revealed the varied cultures and communities in America.
The panels were created in the 1930s for the federal Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project.
The Federal Art Project (FAP) was based on a plan that had originated in Mexico in 1926.
The painting, titled "Industrial Environment of Rochester High School," had been completed in 1938 by Marvin Beerbohm as part of the WPA Federal Art Project. The mural was kept on display until 1961, when the artwork was covered with Sheetrock as renovations were made to the school.
The success of the Public Works of Art Project paved the way for later New Deal art programs, including the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project.

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