CETA Arts Legacy Project

The CETA Arts Legacy Project began as a small group of artists who had been part of the Cultural Council Foundation CETA Artists Project in NYC.
In retrospect, we recognized the importance of CETA as a model for government support of artist employment and for community service.
We also saw knowledge of the CETA Arts programs slipping from history.

From 2011 to 2019 we focused primarily on researching and gathering documentation for the CCF Project and getting word out to the public
through a website, scholarly presentations and articles. Through our research we gained a greater appreciation of the national scope of
CETA’s support of artist employment. By 2020, with the added impetus of the great damage done to the cultural economy by the
Coronavirus pandemic, we expanded our efforts to a national scope and have now assembled a broad coalition.

In 2017, CETA Arts legacy efforts gained a partner in NYC’s City Lore/Place Matters initiative, which has lent staff, space and other
resources in support of the project and has acted as a kind of institutional home. City Lore’s archivist, Molly Garfinkel,
has been its primary liaison to the legacy project.

List of Legacy Project Participants and Advisors

Because WPA was a centralized program, detailed records are available . . . But because CETA was decentralized no such records exist.
Thus, the quality and quantity of the accomplishments of the program could be lost.

— Congressman Jack Brooks (D-TX), Chair of Congressional Committee on Operations, November 15, 1983

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, where Gwendolyn Brooks taught, received CETA funding.

CETA-related Exhibitions

ART/WORK How the Government-Funded CETA Jobs Program Put Artists to Work 1973-1981
City Lore and Cuchiritos Galleries NYC (December 2021 - April 2022)

MOMA Exhibition "Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces" (through February 18, 2023)
features works by fifteen artists who worked under CETA (seven in the NYC CCF project)

CETA-related Media Appearances (selected)

The Forgotten Federally Employed Artists - article: Hyperallergic (12/20)

The landmark 70s artist program that shaped American culture forever - article: i-D (01/22)

Artists say a forgotten Nixon-era jobs program could radically alter federal arts funding - article: Philadelphia Inquirer (4/21)

see full list

Panels and Presentations (selected)

"Art History in Search of a Historian"
Andrea Kirsh • Virginia Maksymowicz • Blaise Tobia
at the College Art Association conference in NYC, February 2023

"Critical Lens: Art x CETA"
Ellin Burke • Kenneth R. Cobb • Molly Garfinkel (chair) • Virginia Maksymowicz • George Malave • Blaise Tobia • Judd Tully
at the NYC Department of Records and Information Services, Municipal Archives , October 2022
Video via YouTube

"How an Almost-Forgotten Federal Program Kickstarted the Feminist Art Movement"
Virginia Maksymowicz (chair) • Jerri Allyn • Arlene Rakoncay • Senga Nengudi •Maren Hassinger • Ann Kalmbach • Nina Kuo
via Zoom March 2022 (introduction by Molly Garfinkel)
Video via YouTube

"The Forgotten Federal Artists: CETA and the CCF Artists Project"
Christy Rupp • Ademola Olegbefola • Judd Tully • Blaise Tobia (chair)
at the College Art Association conference in NYC, February 2019

"Artists, Institutions and Public Funding for the Arts: the Legacy of CETA"
Tom Finkelpearl • Rochelle Slovin • Ted Berger • Steven C. Dubin • Howard Singerman (chair)
at Hunter College, February 2019

see full list

Influencing Public Policy

see Resources for Recovery


City Lore/Place Matters is allied with the CETA Arts Legacy Project.
If you are on Facebook - see the NYC CETA Artists Project page.

They have organized meetings including a major reunion of CCF-CETA artists and administrators in 2018.
They have digitized and transcribed vintage oral histories and created additional ones.

Together with Artists Alliance they produced a joint CETA Arts exhibition "Art/Work"
displayed at City Lore and Cuchifritos Gallery and Project Space December 2021 - April 2022.

They have received support for their CETA Arts work from the Doris Duke Foundation,
the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation and the National Endowment for Humanities

HomepageNational ViewNYC ProjectLegacy Project AccomplishmentsResources for Recovery