Federal Theatre Project

USA theatre company 1935 - 1939 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Federal Theatre Project (FTP; 1935–1939) was a theatre program established during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal to fund live artistic performances and entertainment programs in the United States. It was one of five Federal Project Number One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration, created not as a cultural activity but as a relief measure to employ artists, writers, directors, and theater workers. National director Hallie Flanagan shaped the FTP into a federation of regional theaters that created relevant art, encouraged experimentation in new forms and techniques, and made it possible for millions of Americans to see live theatre for the first time.[1] Although The Federal Theatre project consumed only 0.5% of the allocated budget from the WPA and was widely considered a commercial and critical success, the project became a source of heated political contention. Congress responded to the project's racial integration and accusations of Communist infiltration and cancelled its funding effective June 30, 1939.[2][3] One month before the project's end, drama critic Brooks Atkinson summarized: "Although the Federal Theatre is far from perfect, it has kept an average of ten thousand people employed on work that has helped to lift the dead weight from the lives of millions of Americans. It has been the best friend the theatre as an institution has ever had in this country."[4]

National director Hallie Flanagan with bulletin boards identifying Federal Theatre Project productions under way throughout the United States

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