Arts Organization Seeks True Stories That Document Current Life In America

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – First Person Arts is going across to the nation to find the best videos, photographs and stories that describe how individuals, families, and communities are managing during these hard times. The contest, First Person America: In These Hard Times, invites artists and everyday people to document how this generation of Americans is coping with one of the hardest economic periods since the Great Depression. The website for the contest is at

First Person Arts hopes to gather stories from all 50 states.  Inspired by the artists of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), who documented the experiences of Americans in every part of the country, First Person Arts is asking artists to help create the first draft of the history of our era by capturing, in photographs, on video, or in writing, the stories of America and its people during these difficult times.

One of the unexpected outcomes of the Great Depression was a decade of creative outpouring that covered the U.S. map. Under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), thousands of artists fanned across the country documenting the experiences of everyday Americans as they worked to maintain their families, their communities, and their way of life in the face of a national economic crisis.

First Person Arts seeks short memoirs and essays, documentary films, and photographs that depict Americans from all walks of life. They are interested in stories that are unique to families, communities, towns, and regions that capture the idiosyncratic things that are happening – the slices of life that, taken together, will give us a First Person picture of America in 2009 – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

Writing submissions can be up to 2,500 words. Film and video submissions may be up to five minutes, excluding credits. Photography submissions may include up to five photographs, with or without accompanying text of up to 100 words per image. All submissions need to be into First Person Arts by June 30.

Finalists in each category (writing, film, and photography) will be featured on the First Person Arts website ( and at the First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art, Nov. 4-8. First place winners in each genre will be invited to Philadelphia to participate in the festival. A cash prize will be awarded to the best story overall.

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