Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 63, Number 4, Winter 1985-1986 Page: 361
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Federal Music Project
By Kenneth E. Hendrickson, Jr.*
Unemployment among musicians was chronic even before the Great
Depression. It was caused by the phonograph, the radio, the film
soundtrack, and by the development of music curricula in the public
schools which materially reduced the demand for private music
teachers. Conditions were so bad that by 1934 the American Federa-
tion of Musicians estimated that perhaps as many as 70 percent of
formerly employed musicians were out of work.
At first the problem was most noticeable in the large cities like
New York, and virtually all relief efforts were centered there. Meager
financial support came from the American Federation of Musicians
and other interested groups. The first public effort to assist musicians
came in 1932 when, under the Emergency Reconstruction Act, the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation was empowered to lend money
to the states for work relief projects. There were a few cases in which
states applied for such loans and set up musicians' projects. However,
these were rare instances.
Under the Civil Works Administration (CWA) established in 1933,
work relief projects for artists including musicians were set up in
several states, but by no means everywhere. Those projects which
were established were for the most part recreational, and small. State
relief administrators were generally unenthusiastic about these and
virtually all white collar work relief activities.
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Oklahoma Historical Society. Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 63, Number 4, Winter 1985-1986, periodical, Winter 1985; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc1749381/m1/27/?q=wpa: accessed March 6, 2021), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.