Wells Fargo isn't anti-arts, everyone

Wells Fargo isn't anti-arts, everyone

Jenna Simeonov

Wells Fargo bank angered some artists recently, with their ad for 2016’s upcoming Teen Financial Education Day:

Now, it’s decidedly a strange set-up for the advertising punchline, to mention that young adults have already felt the need for a career change. It seems that the hypothetical decisions of fictional brochure people have irked the artistically-inclined population, because apparently it means that Wells Fargo is implying something like, “We’re here to help you with that really great decision you made to get out of the arts.”

Wells Fargo was quick to publish an apology:

Fine, perhaps it’s fair that they apologize, if only to save themselves from a potential snowball of assumed, far-reaching offense from arts lovers.

But man, is it that bad to suggest that young folk might not want to pursue the arts? When we hear a story about a football-player-turned-opera-singer, or any other escape from corporate life into the warm hug of the arts, we get all excited and proud. And so we should, assuming that the person wants to make the career change.

But, people get excited about engineering and botany, too. And honestly, if a teenager is the type who knows the difference between enjoying ballet, and making a career in science, shouldn’t we just be happy that they’re self-aware? And looking into the financial details involved?

Can’t we place this ad - perhaps poorly worded as it was - next to all the stories about how universities take too many arts students for the number of job opportunities, about getting suckered into too many pay-to-sing summer programs, and all the times that passionate artists finally stepped back from the pressure of making their passion their livelihood?

Young people with a passion should follow it. Young people without a job need to figure out how to make money. Isn’t it better to focus on a fair overlap of these two issues, rather than get our backs up against perceived slights?

Photo: Jed Record via Flickr.

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