Actors and Botanists Can Both be “Ready for Tomorrow”

Posted by Emily Peck, Sep 06, 2016 0 comments

Recently, Wells Fargo released an ad campaign for their “Teen Financial Education Day” encouraging students to leave the arts behind to embark on other careers. The ads featured tag lines stating “A ballerina yesterday. An engineer today” or “An actor yesterday. A botanist today” and finished with the call to action, “Let’s get them ready for tomorrow.” Wells Fargo implied that students shouldn’t pursue a career in the arts.

Americans for the Arts strongly disagrees with this statement. We believe all students should have access to arts education to prepare them for careers in every field. Our recent public opinion poll shows that nine in 10 American adults (88 percent) agree that the arts are part of a well‐rounded K‐12 education. The arts help students succeed in both arts and non-arts related careers. Ready to Innovate, a report done in partnership with The Conference Board, concludes, “It is clear that the arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the third millennium.”

Students are demanding the arts. Our Arts Index shows that the number of college arts degrees conferred annually rose steadily from 75,000 to 139,000 between 1997 and 2013. And many Americans are employed in the arts. Our Creative Industries report shows that nationally, 702,771 businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, employing 2.9 million people. This represents 3.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and 1.9 percent of all U.S. employees.

Wells Fargo knows the importance of the arts. Americans for the Arts has recognized this support many times over the years. In 2005, Wells Fargo received our BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts award and Wachovia, now part of Wells Fargo, received the honor in 2008. In 2011, we honored the bank at our National Arts Awards.

The bank continues to value the importance of the arts for their customers, communities and employees. In a recent interview for our pARTnership Movement website, Lisa Frison, vice president, African American segment strategy leader at Wells Fargo talks about how the arts are a key component of their diversity efforts internally and externally. The bank is also a strong supporter of the arts in local communities

Artists and arts organizations criticized the campaign on social media, including Americans for the Arts Artists Committee member Josh Groban:

Wells Fargo quickly admitted their mistake with an apology on social media.

Americans for the Arts is working to make sure that every business and every American understands the importance of the arts and arts education, no matter what career path they pursue. You can learn more about why businesses are partnering with the arts on our pARTnership Movement website.

As it happens, next week (Sept. 11-17) is National Arts in Education Week. If you’re feeling moved by Wells Fargo’s ad campaign, we encourage you to join the celebration and spread the word! Write a letter to the editor and tell your community how and why the arts matter in education, or tell the world your #BecauseOfArtsEd story on social media—whether it led to a job as a botanist or an artist.

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