A Look Back

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The LA Times reminds us today of another sort of "make-work" program from "back in the day." Under the auspices of the WPA and led by New York's own Harry Hopkins, the New Deal employed a literal army of artists to work on public projects around the country.
Avoiding for a moment the impact on quality of such subsidies, certainly in concept it was an enlightened move and provided outstandingly cost effective public relations to boot. Running the program at full blast from the first year (1934) and ignoring disparities in monthly rates the entire project cost less than $6,000,000 per year (about $92,000,000 annually in today's dollars). Given the enduring legacy of the project and the solid gold democratic image it projected, that was excellent bang for the buck.
To prove it, just in time for the 75th anniversary of the program, a recession has arrived to lend relevance to the substantial collection held at the Smithsonian, portions of which have been dusted off for an exhibit "1934: A New Deal for Artists."
Forget the snow. Do your part to stimulate the travel sector and fly on over to take a peek.
Smithsonian opens Depression-era art vault: Paint like it's 1934 [The LA Times]

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