In this time of economic challenge, there is much talk of the Great Depression of the 1930s. I heard a lot about the Depression era from my parents who were growing up at the time, in downstate New York. Today is the anniversary of a major Depression era program: on April 8, 1935, Congress approved the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the work relief bill that funded the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was created by President Franklin Roosevelt to relieve the economic hardship of the Great Depression, this national works program employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.4 million public projects before it was disbanded in 1943. The WPA employed skilled and unskilled workers in a great variety of work projects—many of which were public works projects such as creating parks, and building roads and bridges, and schools and other public structures.
The WPA included some programs for artists, including the Federal Writers' Project (FWP), the Federal Art Project (FAP), the Federal Music Project, and the Federal Theater Project. Many observers have highlighted the importance of the arts in maintaining --- and rebuilding --- economic vitality.
Reference: Today in History, Library of Congress.