CETA and Arts Employment

During the years 1974-1980, more than 10,000 artists in the U.S., and an additional 10,000 arts support staff, were given full-time employment as part
of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). This was the largest federally-funded artists employment
project since the various arts programs of the WPA in the 1930s, yet CETA has been virtually forgotten. The purpose
of the CETA Arts Legacy Project is to preserve the history of CETA's role in the arts, to make CETA's
accomplishments more widely known and to demonstrate the relavance of CETA as a model
for recovery from the current cultural crisis brought on by the Covid pandemic.

In the face of an economic downturn paired with high inflation in the early 1970s, CETA received bipartisan legislative support
and was signed into law in 1973. It was a general training and employment program, not originally seen as a source of
jobs for artists, but modifications to the program in 1974 made it possible to include artists. The first artists project was
launched in San Francisco in 1974, to be followed by several other large projects over the next several years: in Chicago,
Washington DC, and other cities. The last, and largest, of the projects took place in NYC from 1978-80.

Ruth Asawa - the Alvarado Arts Workshop she co-founded in San Francisco became a model in 1974 for the CETA-funded Neighborhood Arts Program.

This strikes me as a perfectly proper marriage between government and art. We learned through our experience
with the WPA that such a union is not only possible, but fruitful .
. . -- Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY) 1978

This site consists of four sections plus a shared archive of historical resources:

The CETA Arts Legacy Project

CETA Arts NationwideCETA Arts in NYC

CETA's Value for Recovery in the Current Cultural Crisis

CETA Arts Online Research Archive (co-sponsored by Franklin & Marshall College)

Art/Work - an exhibition on the history of the NYC CETA artist projects
took place at City Lore and Cuchifritos galleries December 2021 - April 2022

Contact CETA Arts Legacy Project

updated 231104