The new US art deal called Sera

The new project, the Revitalization of the Creative Economy Act, proposes investing $300 million to fund public cultural projects

A Business Progress Administration (WPA) mural created in 1935 (detail)

In American history, the New Deal (“New Pact”) refers to the economic and social reform plan promoted by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1937, with the aim of lifting the country out of the Great Depression that swept the United States.. From America beginning in 1929 .

As part of the New Deal, the Business Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious jobless program created in 1935, during the darkest years of the Great Depression. During its eight years of existence, the WPA has put about 8.5 million Americans to work, including more than 10,000 artists who have created artwork across the country, in a variety of forms, from murals, fine art, theater, music, writing, design and more.

The generation of artists who benefited from this funding has proven to be the largest and most famous in the history of American art. Thus, in 1940, African-American painter Jacob Lawrence broke new ground with his colorful “Immigration Series”, while Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko became the best-known artists of the first typical American artistic phenomenon, Abstract Expressionism .

It is difficult to quantify the benefits of WPA arts programs. His frescoes still adorn city halls, post offices, and public schools, while hundreds of community art centers established at the time still exist throughout the country. The deep crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has particularly affected artists and creators, and now a group of lawmakers in the US Congress wants to bring unemployed artists back to work with a WPA-inspired program.

The new bill is called the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (Cera), or the Creative Economy Revitalization Act, and proposes investing $300 million to fund public cultural projects. Funds should be directed toward art forms open to all, such as murals, sculptures in parks, exhibitions, and concerts. Interestingly, the proposal has the support of both Republican and Democratic politicians. Regardless of what happens with Wax, many cities have already implemented their own WPA-style grant programs to help artists who have left their jobs due to the pandemic.

In May, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $25 million recovery initiative that will see the city commission 1,500 artists for public artwork. Chicago has already launched its arts restoration program with an investment of $60 million.

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Maggie Benson

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