Interpreting Federal Funding for Performing Arts: Why It Remains a Necessity

Amy MacAdams

Prof. Matthew Johnson

Department of Theatre

This is undergraduate research for an honors thesis. Theatre has been under constant scrutiny since the Federal Theater Project in the 1930s. Federal Funding has played an essential role in helping the arts to flourish. This thesis examines the history of theatre starting with the FTP: Roosevelt’s implementation of a program to provide aid to artists in The Great Depression. This leads into the National Endowment for the Arts, its establishment, the struggles and controversies are noted throughout that time, including the Robert Mapplethorpe incident. The state of nonprofit theaters today is examined, which includes how they are able to earn money and if they are financially stable. The waterfall visual is introduced noting the importance of funding starting at the Federal level and falling down into the nonprofit sectors. The Kentucky Arts Council is described as well as other Kentucky nonprofits. Research is given to prove the worth of federal funding for the arts. This thesis includes research that examines the emotional and mental benefits to children, philosophical arguments for the importance of arts, the mental impact the arts have on adults, revenue brought in by tourists and leisure travelers, and an example looking at a working example of arts within a city is shown. This proves that performing arts are worth funding and need it to thrive. This honors project was completed with the help of a faculty mentor.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2016


Matthew L. Johnson

Mentor Professional Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Environmental Health Science