Date of Award

Spring 4-2015

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Joe W. Trotter


This dissertation examines the intersection of race, urban development, and arts policy in Chicago between 1935 and 1987. Maintaining a focus at the city level, it considers how activists, politicians, civic leaders, and bureaucrats operated within three policy environments presented by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (1935-­‐1943), an interregnum period of dispersed domestic cultural policymaking (1944-­‐1963), and the early years of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (1965-­‐1985). In the interplay between cultural activism, federal policy implementation, and the arc of urban development in Chicago, recognition of the arts as a key component of the local economy deepened, an extensive infrastructure formed, and refinements of the meaning of cultural democracy advanced. Chapters focus on the development of Work Progress Administration community art centers as a component of the relief policy framework; the implications for municipal arts policy of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s concern for stimulating the local economy and attracting affluent whites to the city; the extension of a state-­‐wide system of support for the arts in Illinois; and the Harold Washington administration’s efforts to institutionalize the arts as a part of city government via a vision of cultural democracy that emphasized multiculturalism, access, and free exchange. The dissertation considers the role of government in supporting the arts sector’s orientation towards cultural democracy, defined by valued diversity, open participation, and the right to be heard regardless of race and class background.