Awareness to the arts


pollock.keyArticle: Ethan Stein – Contributor

[dropcaps round=”no”]T[/dropcaps]he University of Regina’s new campaign to draw attention to the Arts is a decent idea and directly attacks frustrating, half-baked criticisms leveled at the faculty. So why do I see fellow Arts majors criticizing the campaign on Facebook?

The intentions behind the videos are decent; while I think a more proactive change (in say, administrative policy or faculty funding) would be more helpful, I can appreciate the ad campaign’s sentiment. There is, however, a lot that I don’t appreciate.

The ad campaign is problematic for a laundry list of reasons, and perhaps the biggest reason is the ad’s reactionary nature. The ad is peppered with claims of Arts majors making money from their work (after which the ad paradoxically claims that money doesn’t matter) as well as implying that people without Arts educations lack a certain capacity to think critically. Maybe I’m just being arbitrary, but statements like these don’t advertise the merits or joys of an Arts degree. They seem more designed as reactionary attack against people who scoff at an Arts education.

I understand and appreciate that criticisms like these are being acknowledged and confronted, but I worry this campaign is measuring the Arts by the standards of other faculties or career paths by focusing on financial benefits and a singular definition of usefulness based on some “advantage” you get over others by selecting the Arts. The campaign should spend more time celebrating Arts rather than defensively justifying them. Why not use these advertising resources to mention initiatives and events that showcase the strengths of the various Arts programs? Imagine how much good could be done if this advertising space were used to briefly showcase student-organized events which emphasize the values of Arts programs (say, the English Students Association’s Trash Talkin’ conference where students write academically about almost anything related to popular culture)?

Furthermore, the ad claims that “Many of our greatest and most successful minds are graduates of the Arts.” It doesn’t bother to mention any actual names, so I guess we’ll just take their word for it. This element is more perplexing because the University’s website actually cites a number of public officials with Arts degrees (like Michael Fougere); why can’t the televised ad do the same?

Maybe it’s all because of the medium, as commercials don’t exactly allow for breadth. This ad doesn’t use its time wisely, though. How many people are going to be persuaded to pursue the Arts if they see the ad’s generalities and a “Trust us, this Arts thing is really, really useful” mentality? Is the purpose to get attention? In that sense it succeeded, but why not aim higher and set out to use this campaign to bring positive attention to the Arts faculty?

I don’t want to completely write off the new campaign because I do appreciate the fact that the University wants to bring awareness to the Arts faculty. I just hope the message becomes something more positive rather than reactionary.

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