From August 29, 1935, until June 30, 1943 United States promote what they called Federal Art Project.

Reputed to have created more than 200,000 separate works, FAP artists created posters, murals and paintings. Some works still stand among the most-significant pieces of public art in the country.[Wiki]

I think this is one of the most interesting maneuvers of the New Deal it seems such forward-looking and philanthropic. I wonder what were the best benefits that they supposed they would have by this maneuver.

  • 6
    The primary goal was to spend money. The US economy was in a depression, and the government was deploying economic stimulus along all fronts.
    – MCW
    Nov 12, 2013 at 13:03
  • 3
    Same benefits as digging a hole in a road and filling it back, but (on some occasions) prettier.
    – DVK
    Nov 22, 2013 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


See PBS.org's website for supporting material about their show American Experience for the episode: The Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Under the direction of Harry Hopkins, an enthusiastic ex-social worker who had come from modest means, the WPA would spend more than $11 million in employment relief before it was canceled in 1943. The work relief program was more expensive than direct relief payments, but worth the added cost, Hopkins believed. “Give a man a dole,” he observed, “and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit”.

The article answers the question 'why support art?':

When federal support of artists was questioned, Hopkins answered, “Hell! They’ve got to eat just like other people.” The WPA supported tens of thousands of artists, by funding creation of 2,566 murals and 17,744 pieces of sculpture that decorate public buildings nationwide. The federal art, theater, music, and writing programs, while not changing American culture as much as their adherents had hoped, did bring more art to more Americans than ever before or since. The WPA program in the arts led to the creation of the National Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For primary source material at the National Archives, see NARA's entry page,
Records of the Work Projects Administration.


As you know, the Federal Art Project was a part of the WPA during the Great Depression. Quoting Wikipedia:

The FAP's primary goals were to employ out-of-work artists and to provide art for non-federal government buildings: schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. The work was divided into art production, art instruction and art research. The primary output of the art-research group was the Index of American Design, a mammoth and comprehensive study of American material culture.
The FAP was one of a short-lived series of Depression-era visual-arts programs, which included the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Public Works of Art Project (both of which, unlike the WPA-operated FAP, were operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury).

Basically, we were in a depression, so we needed to spend money to stimulate the economy. It had the added benefits of keeping artists off the streets and giving public buildings nice decorations.

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