Imagine the economy is struggling terribly, unemployment is high, and people are looking for things to do with their free time to make a buck. Imagine the government starts a fund to distribute money to all kinds of workers, including artists, to stimulate useful projects around the country. Artists can apply and, after proving need, receive a weekly stipend to create paintings, murals, drawings, prints, or sculptures that will be shown in public places around the country. Imagine this stimulation inspiring the country to engage with art and stay focused on the positive, at the same time enabling starving artists to work in the field of their passion and create over 200,000 works of art.

Sound like something that is or could be happening now? It does to me. But it was all part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, an economic stimulus plan enacted back in the post-depression years of the mid-1930’s. Painters such as Pollack, Rothko, and de Kooning participated in the Federal Art Project, the arm specific to funding artists. The Smithsonian had an exhibit last year, and still retains a site where you can learn more about the art from this era.

I wonder if something like this could happen today? Maybe it will happen in a different way, funded by some grassroots efforts, or some kind of underground revolution. I wonder, do you know anything about it?

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