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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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Session:         Page of 592

Q:

Okay. I want to ask a question first.

You really haven't discussed at all how the concept of Bread and Roses as an integrated, massive project developed.

Foner:

What do you mean?

Q:

Well, you had for years and years and years all kinds of cultural programming at 1199. At some point you have reached here a kind of a taking off point, that represents a real --

Foner:

A big jump.

Q:

A real change. Right, it represents a real quantum leap ahead. What I'm wondering about is, what was the thinking process that led you to decide to take this leap? Where did the whole idea of Bread and Roses -- as I've said, as an integrated, massive effort which would involve hundreds of thousands of dollars -- develop? Because the stuff you'd been doing before wasn't nearly at that level, obviously.

Foner:

No. You see, what we had been doing before was very innovative. It was very unusual -- no other unions had done it. But it was very modest, the funding was very very very minimal. If we had theatre programs, the performers virtually did it gratis. If we had -- or they got a hundred dollars for a night. We had an exhibition in the gallery. The artist said, “I want to exhibit.” Everything was done on that low budget basis.

Now, when I heard -- and I think I've gone over it -- when I heard that the endowments were interested in a prototype in the labor movement, and they said to me, “You ought to do this,” it immediately seemed to me that this was a natural for us. We didn't know that it would work in the sense that we would get it, but it was certainly worth a crack. The more interest that they showed, the more I became interested in it, and the more excited I became about it. So that what happened -- and I have a tendency to do this anyway. I have a tendency to embroider a good thing. It's never enough to say, “Okay. This is what we're going to do.” But once you decide that this is what you're going to do, I start thinking about it. I said, “Well, if we can do this, we can do that too.” So we keep building on top of the thing. That's what happened in Bread and Roses.

So that once the endowment said, “We're interested,” I said, “The sky is the limit” in terms of we're limited by our imagination! Really not only by our imagination. Because I firmly believe that ideas are very easy to get. It's very easy to put a group of people in a room like this



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