Dear Corporate America, Why Do You Hate the Arts?

Chris Peterson

2015 was, in many ways, a banner year for the theatrical arts. We saw a groundbreaking musical and play take home the top honors at the Tony Awards and Hamilton has transcended the musical theatre genre like few pieces have in our history. 


Yet, with all of this success to look up to, 2015 saw major companies mock or take swipes at theatre and the arts in unprecedented ways. 

First we saw AT&T's bewildering print ads about their new mobile TV app by showing how you can use it in case you were bored watching live theatre. 


And now, even more insulting, is a line of shirts being sold at Old Navy children's sections which feature the words, "Young Aspiring Artist" but with the word "Artist" crossed out and replaced with words like "President" or "Astronaut". 

Now before anyone accuses me of not wanting kids to be Presidents someday, that's not my gripe at all. I think any shirt or slogan that encourages kids to fulfill their potential is a great thing, but why do it by discouraging the arts? 

They could have picked any other word to cross out, how about "Loafer", "Slouch", "Slacker", any of these words would have carried the same meaning without disparaging an entire industry.  

Some of you might be thinking, "Relax, it's just a shirt". You're not wrong, it is just a shirt. But my problem lies with two aspects of selling this product. 

The first is that, by selling this short, Old Navy is basically telling children that a life involved with the arts is a waste. 

The second, which is even more confusing, is that Old Navy is selling a shirt like this despite the fact that they employ those who have pursued a career in the arts. Students who pursued majors such as Fashion, Graphic Design, Fibers, Illustration, Advertising, all work for companies like Old Navy. So it's incredibly odd that a company, who thrive off the designs of artists, would insult the profession in such a way. 

With 2016 just beginning, it is my hope that companies will embrace the artistic community rather than ridicule it. It's been proven time and time again how the arts can enrich and enhance education, what the arts industry doesn't need is big business actively dissuading people from getting involved with it. 

I'm almost positive Old Navy will remove this shirt from being sold, to save face. But the fact that they thought it was okay in the first place is bewildering.