BURGOYNE DILLER: Apparently, New York City had been voted a certain amount, or rather, granted a certain amount of money. A certain budgetary limitation was set up, but the funds would become available. Now understand, this means money to be spent. Therefore, you had to have people working to earn that money, and this comes to putting people to work. When I was called in there, it was an extraordinary situation because the thing had been just started in that past month or so, and what we were doing -- our job was to put people to work. But we had a doublefold responsibility. You can't put people to work at nothing. The only thing you could do immediately was to say, "Well here, try experimenting with some mural ideas," if you felt the man was capable of this work. You see, the work was submitted to a committee, and it was decided whether he could be an easel painter. Now that's easy. We all can paint, you see. Or a sculptor, you know -- "go off and prepare some sketches for a sculpture." You could put them to work immediately, but in a division like the mural division or architectural sculpture, it was a different thing, because we had to get the sponsorship of public institutions in order to assign anything. Those people we felt were more immediately able to start developing projects we assigned to just general thinking about the things, about the mural, because don't forget, very few men had had the opportunity of working on walls. We felt that if they just exercised a little bit until we could find them a sponsor, you see, why we'd be that much up on the game. I know that in my case it was a question of spending half the day, you know, on the committee, accepting the artists, enrolling them and assigning them to what I thought was reasonable that would help in the total picture that was developing. Then the other half or more of your time was spent in going out to city agencies and talking with people in public libraries and so on and having them request a mural. Now the commitment at the time on their part was really that they would have the mural. They could order a mural through the head of the department, through their agency and, as in the high school, for instance, if they were a grade school or a high school, or whatever, you'd have to go through the Board of Education and have the Board of Education make the request. But the original request came from the school itself. So we'd have to talk to the school principals and so on and say, "Well here, we've looked at your building, and we think there's an opportunity of having a mural in the auditorium, or in the hallways or something. It might be appropriate, and if you'd be interested and if they were, why we'd develop it from there. As fast as we could get these institutions committed to the sponsorship, then we could assign artists to make tentative sketches for the job. It was a problem really of, as I said -- we had to have men at work in order to use the money that had been designated for the area and for the activity. If you didn't have it, of course, the funds would probably be withdrawn. It was an impossible sort of task, but one that you thought you had to do something about. I think that in most cases it wasn't too difficult to secure sponsorship of high schools and libraries. I mean it took some considerable amount of talking perhaps and so on, but once they realized that this was something that was within their own discretionary powers, and that the work would be subject to their complete approval, they didn't feel too great a hesitancy about ordering, or becoming sponsors. I think the greatest threat to their acceptance would have been that work could have been put in there over their own decision of what they wanted. This couldn't be. By the way, this was a tremendous source of newspaper comment. You know the headlines in papers like the Journal-American and other papers, particularly the Journal-American, was anti-New Deal and so on, but you know these murals were being rammed down the public's throat and a communist mural had been torn down off the wall because it had these Red symbols in it and so on and so on. This was foisted down the taxpayer's throat and so on and so on. As a matter of fact, it didn't happen. It was silly because the thing that they charged was the Red Star of the Soviet Republic was the rear end of a Shell Gas truck that had a red star on it, you know the gas station has ...

- bill 6-13-2010 4:08 pm

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