Fearing the arts would atrophy in the withering face of severe economic depression, Hopkins squeezed funds from the Civil Works and Federal Emergency Relief Administrations for cultural projects. He hoped to safeguard the skill-sets of individual artists and the cultural life of the country as a whole with the relatively meagre entitlement, vastly important because no other government agency emphasized relief for unemployed white collar workers or support for the arts. The monies, however inadequate, did employ over three thousand artists, and by the spring of 1935 the Works Progress Administration began making explicit provisions for aid to so-called "professional persons."

It is with this program that we associate the massive effort to provide "socially useful" work for over 3.5 million "employables." The WPA supported the arts though the Federal Writers Project, which introduced then-unknown writers Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, and Richard Wright; the Federal Art Project, which supported Jackson Pollack and Willem Koonig, whose murals were praised and castigated alternatively for their artistic vigor and political sentiment; the Federal Music Project which underwrote six LA symphony orchestras; the Federal Dance Project; and the Federal Theatre Project, under the direction of Hallie Flanagan.

Certainly, this relief was welcome for all artists, but especially for African American ones, among whom the unemployment rate at times reached 75%. The Federal Theatre Project represented material progress for these marginalized Americans, both in economic and social terms.

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