July 27, 1935
Federal Works Progress Administrator Harry Hopkins confirmed rumors circulating for months that Hallie Flanagan Davis, director of the Vassar Experimental Theatre, was to head a nationwide theater program, one of four “white collar” projects under the WPA. The other directors named were art historian and curator Holger Cahill to head the visual arts program, conductor Nikolai Sokoloff to head the music program and newspaperman and author Henry C. Alsberg to head the writers’ program.
The projected budget for the four programs was $300,000,000. However, by September Hopkins had winnowed some 5,500 applications for grants totaling nearly a billion dollars down, and President Roosevelt allotted $27,315, 217 to those accepted.
Hallie Flanagan’s Federal theatre project expected to employ 9,000 actors and 3,000 stage technicians. “The purpose of the drama program,” an announcement said, “aside from giving employment to needy workers, will be to establish standards of theatre production which will improve the skill of the artists and stimulate appreciation of the drama, and to develop methods by which the drama units may become self-supporting in whole or in part by providing entertainment to large audiences at low cost, through an educational and recreational program.” The New York Times