Celebrating Women Artists of the WPA – Project Overview

Background on the WPA>>
Women Artists of the WPA>>
Suggested Classrooom or Community Activities>>
Download a Play about Women of the WPA>>
Additional Resources>>

For an inspiring presentation about the current need for public service arts jobs, please read or watch the presentation that Arlene Goldbard gave at Towards A New WPA, the WomenArts SWAN Day event held on March 22, 2010 at Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, NY.

Read Arlene’s 4 page presentation>>
Watch a video of Arlene’s 16 minute presentation>>


Since 2010 was the 75th Anniversary of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), WomenArts honored women artists of the WPA as part of SWAN Day 2010.

The WPA was a federal jobs program designed to stimulate the U.S. economy during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The government recognized that artists had valuable skills to contribute towards the recovery, and the WPA employed over 40,000 artists at its peak.  The plays, music, posters, murals, monuments, parks and amphitheaters that they created are still enjoyed by the public today.

There are many parallels between the economic situation in the 1930’s and the current one. Saluting the women of the WPA as part of SWAN Day is a way to remind the public that there was an amazing artistic outpouring when our federal government made a serious investment in arts jobs in the 1930’s. Many artists are calling on President Obama to include artists in his economic stimulus plans too, and we have included links to articles about that in our Additional Resources section.

We are always interested in finding more materials for this section of our website. If you have information about women artists of the WPA or other ideas that you would like to share with us, please contact us>> We always appreciate your input.

The WPA anniversary reminds us that at every moment of challenge, women artists have been ready to pitch in, creating beauty, meaning and connection where fear and hardship have frayed the fabric of community.

Please join us in celebrating these inspiring women!