Federal Theatre Project (1935–9) By Witham, Barry B.
The Federal Theatre Project was a government-subsidized program established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs for theater artists during the Great Depression in the United States. Along with similar programs in art, music, dance, and writing, the project was designed to produce professional theater throughout the country and eventually established companies in thirty-one American states. While the fare of the program was broad, including circuses, vaudeville, musicals, and children’s theater, its offerings were largely progressive, which led to conflicts with Congressional Republicans who viewed the program as propaganda for New Deal politics. Eventually, charges of communism led to an investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the budgetary elimination of Federal Theatre in 1939.