Since it’s inception in 2009, Creative Week New York or CWNY has garnered an ever-growing spectacle of creativity, with special attention to the advertising and design industries. For a week during the Spring, The One Club hosts the event filled with showcases, panels, awards, and networking opportunities. 2011’s CWNY in particular, featured a panel of industry professionals whose topic was, “Where Are All The Black People?”
Their discussion focused on the sensitive area of not just black, but multi-cultural diversity within the ad agencies, as well as in the creative world as a whole. In the last quarter of 2011, The One Club hosted a follow up one-day affair entitled “Where Are All The Black People: Part 2 at the New World Stages in New York.
CLE was in attendance to gain a plethora of wisdom and insight into the fight for diversity and the setbacks that often deter minority groups from pursuing a career path outside of the “norm.” In addition, the purpose of the program is about a push for the recruitment of new and raw talent from all walks of life; walks of life where following an unorthodox passion is not always encouraged because it is not deemed as profitable or serious work.
As addressed by the One Group President, Kevin Swanapoel, the main objective is to; “stress this is…about multicultural diversity, trying to make the creative departments more effective in the community that they serve.”
This statement raises a delicate question. How possible could it really be to express the needs of a society, if all members are not properly represented amongst those who cultivate influence? Jeff Goodby, the Co-Chairman & Creative Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners added, “if our whole culture is not represented in the creation of this stuff than those hopes and dreams will be wrong.” It is in fact, also attributed to the lack of resources and information afforded to these very same cultures, which create such a lack in substantial representation.
Neal Arthur, Managing Director at Wieden+Kennedy, had this to say, “I just kind of grew up as one of those people not knowing that there was a career in advertising. I grew up with the very conventional Doctor, Teacher, Lawyer thing.” This is very true, especially for those who come from poor and middle class economic backgrounds, where survival and job security are of the upmost focus, leaving little room for dreams outside of the “box.” Furthermore, a person from this background with multiple interests and/or talents that conflict with such traditional ideals can end up following a path, which unjustly downplays their potential.
The very sentiment becomes an issue that greatly affects young educated individuals on a large scale, as an occupation in the arts — i.e. writing, music, design — has been long looked at as unrealistic. When coming from a working class family based in classic values — especially those of foreign origin within this country a significant generational gap can blur out communication and understanding between loved ones and their children. If they are working hard to send their own off to college for a better life, then it is expected that the student follows a path that is straight and secure, leaving young people immensely conflicted if their dream is not to be the typical doctor, lawyer, teacher etc. Then there are those who don’t necessarily fit into the college structure.
While education is undoubtedly important, the institution of college is not always a match for everyone. College does not guarantee a job & can leave one deep in debt. Still, the experience and network of relationships developed are invaluable. There are many successful people who did not go to college, but have strived for excellence through passion, struggle, and a well executed plan.
Everyone comes from different circumstances, but the goal is to find an appropriate path for one’s specific needs, passions, and personality; not the dreams of someone else. If the issue is a sense of diminished privilege or lack of knowledge, as Jimmy Smith, Chairman, CEO & CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment expressed, “find somebody who’s going to be your mentor.”. Most importantly, there’s nothing better than having someone who understands and encourages such endeavors in one’s corner. The road may not be simple, but there’s nothing worst than untapped talent.
For more information on creative week or the one club visit:
By Joshua Taylor