The Federal Theater Project (FTP) was a division of President
Roosevelt's Works Project Administration (WPA). The WPA was organized in order to dream up jobs for the many unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. They employed manual laborers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, musicians with the Federal Music Project and historians with the Federal Records Survey - to name only a few of the agencies within the WPA. The Federal Theater Project was intended to hire the nation's actors, costumers,directors and stagehands:
"At its peak in 1936, FTP employed 12,500 persons...it had puppet shows, vaudeville units, circuses and stock companies traveling through every state."
This 1938 editorial by the artist Philip Evergood (1901 - 1973) stated that the Federal Arts Project of the Thirties had not simply made the lives of artists a little better, but had also created a far better society:
"The Federal Arts Project has pointed the way to an American Culture. It has set a weight in motion, it has let loose a force that has affected hundreds of thousands of lives. It has made murals depicting the history of our country and the lives of our people have been placed on the walls of our schools, hospitals, libraries and public buildings making them of greater beauty and of greater community interest - monuments and small sculpture have been added in equal numbers, easel paintings and prints now hang in thousands on the walls of public buildings..."
Evergood likened this government funding to the Renaissance, when the church served as the artist's patron and culture flourished.
During the Spring of 1933 articles like this one began to appear in the magazines and newspapers across the country serving to inform their readers about the creation of an additional Federal agency that was designed to help take some of the sting out of the Great Depression. Roosevelt's New Deal intended to take a hefty percentage of unmarried young men off the streets of 16 American cities, feed them, clothe them and line their pockets with $30.00 a month for their labor. W.W. II created a host of other demands requiring Federal funding, and so Congress voted to dissolve the C.C.C. in 1942.
This 1939 magazine article addressed the matter of the communist organization "Workers Alliance" perverting the arts organizations that operated within the Federal Works Projects Administration (WPA), thus forcing the government agency to close:
"When the arts projects of the WPA were instituted, many capable and culturally progressive individuals throughout the country hailed them as a banner raised against the gloomy depression sky to form a rallying point for youthful and ambitious artists whose task it was to carry the torch of aesthetic advancement on to that future time when we envisaged the return of 'prosperity'..."yet "the obvious control of the arts projects by the communist party through its stooge, the Workers Alliance" has forced the hand of Congress to abolish the agency.
CLICK HERE to read about African-Americans during the Great Depression.
Unlike the CCC, WPA, CWA, or DRA, you can type FCA.gov into a search engine and actually make contact with one of FDR's multiple alphabet agencies. This 1937 article will tell you why it came into being - but it won't tell you why the agency wasn't done away with during any of the decades of plenty that followed.