It's been a couple of weeks since the Wells Fargo ads sparked controversy among lovers of the arts, but the ads are still fresh in my mind, perhaps because they continue to circle around my social media feed. If you missed this particular advertising campaign, Wells Fargo released photos such as these, downplaying the arts and promoting science:
The ads left a bad taste in my mouth. This ad campaign took me back to my first day in a college chemistry course. My professor literally laughed out loud when I introduced myself to the class and stated that I was a music education major. He told me I could leave and drop the class if I wanted to. I smiled and told him I'd be just fine. At the end of the semester, he thanked me and told me that I was one of the few to score 99%-100% on all of my exams. I'll admit, I was the one looking smug after that. My first love is music, and while completing my degree in education, I have taken numerous music classes and participated in performances at my university, originally wanting to teach music for a career. These ads reminded me of many conversations I endured while pursuing a degree in music education. I was warned that I would be the lowest priority in my future school, along with the art and phys-ed teachers. I was told that I could look forward to being placed in a basement with little to no funding for my program. Certain kinds of people refused to recognize my career as a valid option. But all of the best kinds of people supported my career decision; the kinds of people who valued smiling, divergent thinking, beauty, creation, and living...
I think the main reason these ads rubbed me the wrong way is because the arts need to make progress in our schools. Our education system needs revival. We need to have students who are practicing divergent thinking, creativity, and resourcefulness, and there is nothing like the arts to draw these qualities out in a child. As we try to save music and art programs from further cuts, the last thing we need is companies promoting ideology such as what Wells Fargo did. We need society to realize how important we are to a child's education. My music education has trained my brain to recognize patterns and advanced formulas, create original content, and embrace cultures across the world and throughout history.
We need scientists and engineers, but even more than that, we need scientists and engineers like the ones in these ads. Ones who have been trained in the arts as well as the sciences, getting them ready for their tomorrows. If only Wells Fargo had worded their ads in that way, making it clear that the arts was an important part of these students' lives and education, no matter what career path they chose to take.