Stage Writes

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Wells Fargo Ad Controversy: Is An Apology Enough?

By   Posted 9.5.2016   From the Desk Of, #ArtsCareers, #CynthiaErivo

Wells Fargo has managed to cause an uproar not only in the arts community, but seemingly everywhere. Their Teen Day ad campaign - which represented arts careers as less worthy than science-based ones - has infuriated many working artists and arts supporters. Soon after, Wells Fargo issued an apology for the campaign, claiming that they support all art forms and always have. My question is simple: how does such a controversial ad slip past the editors in the first place?

The answer may simply lie in the ranks of a marketing department. Whoever wrote the advertisments was obviously appealling to those parents who value lucrative careers for their children; parents who push their children towards math and science in order to further such careers. They obviously exist. Unfortunately, this ultimately means that there are employees working for Wells Fargo - a self-proclaimed supporter of the arts community - who view careers as dancers and actors as "not prepared for tomorrow." In other words, engineers and botanists are much more valued and, therefore, better - which means arts careers are not. I'm simply flabbergasted that this viewpoint still exists in 2016; when it is a common, progressive belief that society would not exist as the rich and colorful place that it is without art and the people who make it.

It is encouraging to see a such a large company issue an immediate apology for an error, I admit. My grievances still stem from the fact that it was necessary. There was no way to misinterpret the meaning behind the ads: it was obviously demeaning to any student wishing to study the arts. How is that ever okay, to anyone? How did this even make it to print? As progressive as we arts people are, maybe it's simply hard to remember that not everyone sees value in expressing yourself as career choice.

Kurt Vonnegut quote

One of my favorite quotes by Kurt Vonnegut

Luckily, I've found plenty of evidence that our community has spoken up. Cheers to Broadway stars Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and others for expressing their outrage via social media. Click here to see a full article on published on September 4, 2016 concerning the apology issued by Wells Fargo.