Why Arts Graduates Are Under-Employed

Why Arts Graduates Are Under-Employed

Arts graduates across the developed world, often complain bitterly about the difficulties they face finding good employment. They spent long and costly years studying such subjects as history, art, philosophy, poetry and drama, then they reach the jobs market and discover that no one has any use for their distinctive skills and interests. If they’re extremely lucky they may find some kind of job but it will almost certainly have no connection with what they’ve studied or pay very much. A great number end up making coffee while deeply resenting against the backdrop of frothing milk and roasting beans, how their years studying Foucault or Spinoza seem to have gone absolutely nowhere. It’s tempting to dismiss such moans. If someone wants to spend their time finding out about post colonial theory, reading south American novels or deconstructing vampire films then that’s very nice, as a hobby. But it’s harder to see why anyone should expect to get paid for doing so. You don’t get paid for going to the cinema or attending parties either, but in truth, the extraordinary rate of unemployment or misemployment of graduates in the humanities is a sign of something grievously wrong with modern societies. It’s evidence that we have no real clue what culture and art are really for and what problems they could solve. We like to declare the humanities worthy and noble and fund a few professors to dig away in the archives but basically at a societal level we don’t know what the humanities could do for us and therefore, how people trained in them should spend their days, other than in preparing Frappucinos. Good news is that the humanities actually do have a point to them. They are a storehouse of vitally important knowledge about how to lead our lives: Novels teach us about relationships, works of art re-frame our perspectives, drama provides us with cathartic experiences, philosophy teach us to think, political science to plan and history is a catalog of case-studies into any number of personal and political scenarios. The humanities have some of the biggest clues out there about how to fix stuff. We’re very bad at a range of things that these arts graduates could help us with. We still don’t know how to make relationships work. This could be a trillion dollar business. We don’t know how to communicate what we’re feeling to others in a way that they’ll understand, we’re bad at interpreting our emotions and making good choices, we don’t know how to treat others to get the best out of them, we don’t know how to reform advertising, the media, politics, schools, architecture and a lot of the time we’re simply anxious and sad. We aren’t creatures who need only practical things like food and drinks, cement and running shoes. We also need help with the bits of ours that religion used to call our souls and we much as well call our psyches. This psyche related work deserves to become a huge and legitimate part of the world econonmy worth as much as the cement trade or the lumber business. That they’re so many arts graduates waiting tables isn’t a sign that they’ve been lazy and self indulgent, it’s that we haven’t collectively working up to what culture could really do for us and how useful and totally practical it could be…

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Actually arts majors need to realize those problesm mentioned at the end of the video and actively advertize their skills to help in solving them.
    For some reason it is always assumed that society needs to aknowledge those skills more. But as with everything else you want to sell to day you need to advertize it. And most liberal arts people are just not doing that.

  2. these comments sound fluffy as fuck. unless your parents have money and you're always the life of the party, you really should've known better but you were a dumb teen who had to make a life-changing decision and you chose poorly (it's normal)

  3. There ya go, now you've given them someone to blame! Awesome, arts students are correct and gifted and the rest of us just don't get it! Fantastic! How long have you been a life coach? Dude, that's not useful- tell them how to get a sense of entrepreneurship and what film and other arts related institutions are hiring. Substance, not "validation" for their resentful feelings- that makes people unresponsible for their emotional lives, which in turn makes them less desirable in ANY job market. That was a clue. Run with it. Oh, PS: nobody owes you a job.

  4. Yes. But part of the problem is there’s simply no market for it. You have to market your skills for them to have value. I don’t want to live in a world where people get to simply laze around doing whatever they please receiving pay for it. Communism is bad, we all know that. Study an easily marketable skill or learn how to market your chosen skill.

  5. Good to know how important humanities could be. However real world is difficult to be changed. Most of us must seek for a practical job and take humanities as a hobby. Very frustrating

  6. The problem is with naive students thinking that if they study something then the labor market has a demand for it. No, you have to decide what is in demand then go for it. You can't just study your belly button for 4 years and expect a decent job.

  7. All in my life I looked and hoped for putting my skills and talents in good use. I agree with this video that art has really important role in modern society, but if we continue to measure value through the material and profit oriented glasses of capitalism, it will not earn its rightful place in people’s minds. My oppinion is that capitalism is dying. What I mean is that it is very naturally has the spirit of expanding, as life and energy has… but it’s only working when there’s place to expand. And soon, there will be no place. I am searching for a different set of fundamental thougts that aims to exist in cycles, not in a line, going up on a scale. But its just philosophy or whatever… XD It is not the thing which puts bread on my table. But I am lucky to have a job in a theatre, which barely, but does.

  8. I'm lucky to have a good role model, my brother went to school for journalism. I hate the industry right now and so does he, but he still worked hard for almost four years to go down the path he wanted. I'll do the same for art school, even if I don't get any work I'll still be glad I got the knowledge since I love drawing either way.

  9. So I happen to dabble in economics, and this entire video sounds like horse shit to me.

    We do value art as a society. How many times have you listened to a song or watched a TV sitcom? Thats art right there. Heck you probably even pay for these as subscriptions (except if you engage in piracy, then shame on you). I personally go attend symphonies, visit art and history museums, and yes I pay full price for all of these engagements. I am a software engineer but I am very engaged with arts in my life.

    We already have markets for the things you mentioned. We have relationship experts (and yes their services are valued by their clientele). We have political scientists working as advisers in top levels of the government. There are psychologists who help people cope with their feelings and mental problems.

    I think you got off the rails when you say "it should be worth as much as the lumber or cement business". The "invisible hand" of the free markets as Adam Smith calls it dictates what services are valuable and to how much of a degree. That is what sets prices.

    And guess what, free markets could not give a flying f**k about your feelings.

    Look I get it, it sucks to be lied to as a 17 year old – "Go to college and your life is settled". We ask our kids to take major life decisions at a time they are still asking for permission to go to the restroom in public schools, and cant drink for another 4 years.

    But the free market neither cares for the romantic delusions of kids or the myths/lies that adults like to tell themselves of how it "ought to be", that is just liberal garbage (and no I am not a conservative, I am a realist). Our society is exactly as it "ought to be".

  10. The reason unemployement of art graduates is high is because the humanities sciences are not practical to the word. It is like language: It isn't practical to the economy because a matter of humans not work to achieve something such as engeneer or doctor. These matters are not mental materials but instead practical materials. What I mean by "practical" is that isn't applied to personal life but instead to economies, businesses, medecine and other important status in societies like police, firemen etc. Humanities sciences are instead part of man's life and their reasons.

  11. I think its because art isn't necessarily supposed to be inflated to that far of an extent. Its more or less useless when it comes to anything practical.

    just imagine trying trying to figure out, lets say, "the problem with today's society", its like I mean "sure" a degree would mayyyybe but whos to tell anyone who needs any real certification for solving problems like that? The world of art isnt objective like engineering. you cant learn to become a tool in a machine like an engineer. and because its not cog and machine like engineering and the stem fields, your simply out of luck when it comes to finding any sort of job.

    but than again thats not even "real art" if your definition of art is simply aesthetics.
    I think "the arts and humanities" are a stupid name for those type of degrees because thats not art, its philosophy, but im getting ahead of myself.
    The only real place where my definition of art has any industrial utility is either in the places that require actual knowledge and practice of "aesthetics" such as in the games industry where its mandatory that in the arts department that you be a damn good artist, but even than whos to say college degree is even nessiciary if all trying to do is prove your worthy to the employer? Why wouldnt you just try to prove that your worthee with somthing thats actually real? like a good art portfolio and track record.

    i think art degrees are even more useless and stupid when you remember that the college system is stupid. because if you know that, than you can realize that art college isnt only stupid, but misplaced – and that turns art college into somthing thats not only awfully expensive but a place where you barely learn any job skills. like damn, just go to a trades school. an arts trade school.
    and it wasnt even displaced on accident, but on purpose. these schools are simply taking advantage of the creatively inclined populus who want a chance at doing somthing that they actually enjoy. its just disgusting and sad.
    please dont let those people take advantage of you.
    im sorry, but being creative is just a risky life to live out and theres no changing that fact of reality –
    its a risk yes, but in these times there are so many opportunities, any possible "risks" that could befall you would be absolutely meaningless because whats going to happen to you if you grow your artistic following using instagram? NOTHING, so stop sleeping of this opportunity just because youd rather save your money on a false insurance policy like college. we have the internet, we have instagram, we have meetups, "game jams", youtube, and twitter.
    so any pain that your experiencing for going to art college isnt the colleges fault (although i truly wish they would dissapear in place of somthing thats online free and united (Like the artistic information found on youtube)) its your fault for not actually weighing the truth of the situation properly. I do not think that art college is a good choice because i dont think it actually increases your chances for a succesful creative career –
    in short, theres simply no use in "trying" to be economically "safe" by using college as a insurance policy when what your going into is inherently risky, because no ammount of insurance will secure your spot and value as an artist. just let the risk be a risk and play your cards RIGHT. the best insurance policy as an artist would be actual real world experience and networking, so please do that.
    I thought that would be more or less self evident.

  12. Liberal Arts Graduates actually have a lot of job options. They can be feminist activists, anti racist activist/educators, gender fluidity activist. Tim Wise makes millions hating on whites. Contemporary art (or modern/degenerate art) is also a lucrative profession. In fact, all leftist groups are heavily funded by outstanding people like George Soros.

  13. The thing is, no degree is useless. However, depending on which degree you choose, you'll either struggle attaining a job or automatically attain a job right off the bat. You can get a humanities or a arts degree (music/language/drama/art) but you'll obviously struggle succeeding IF you dont put in the effort to succeed. You can make something great with a bachelors or masters in arts degree but you will need yo work a little harder then lets say someone with a bachelors in mechanical engineering. You can also do a double or triple degree if you have dedication and determination. Im currently in CSUS and I attained a great deal of degrees and certificates from a community college (A.S. Math, A.A. Accounting, A.A. Music) and am currently working on my bachelor's in jazz studies and financial accounting to be a CPA and minoring in math and physcology. Its all about the determination.

  14. Arts Graduates degrees are useless. Many arts degree should be Associate degree, then the artist won,t be wasted money on learning history arts, but they should be learn how to illustrate.

  15. I always laugh at entitled arts students who think they are so important working in fast food. My work takes any resume with an art degree on it in the trash can where it rightly belongs.

  16. Why do you need a degree in art or music to do it well? How many famous/ talented musicians went to a music school? ?

  17. Why are STEM students watching this video, to downplay and insult artists? You do realize as technology evolves, there are more demands in tech-art skills such as graphic design, one of the biggest majors not to mention other majors like digital art, animation, 2-d 3-d design, etc? Humanities I can understand there is no value to it at all, but to click on a video primarily focused in arts, why even? I can honestly tell you from my experience as a undergrad engineer, I cannot compete in art against my friends who are majoring in such.

    Sure, I can do art as a "hobby" but going by that logic, I can learn everything doctors do by simply going online or driving towards your local library. But even then, it'll take me double, triple of my time compared to the 4 years they managed and improved their skills in such majors like Art and Medicine. Colleges help you accelerate the process, we engineers build things useful in life, artists color and beautifully design those cars to make it that much appealing to use. Like a cherry on top.

    And before my fellow ignorant STEM enthusiasts start insulting artists about Intelligence, you realize some took more than 2 AP classes during their HS years? It's not that they can't compete, hell, they can, but they do what they love and that truly matters the most. Their creativity, critical thinking analysis, emotional intelligence, and some can say reasoning are perhaps leagues higher than our brains while we have the upper hand in logical thinking, reasoning, etc etc.

    And again, before you start shouting "Reality is harsh! You should've chosen a rEaL joB rEeEEeEEEE" (Which was me) These STEM fields are over-saturated, literally. I go in my class full of 200 kids competing to get an A while there are barely anyone in art classes. Most of them are girls though. I'd rather admire people who truly love what they do even if it means struggling to find a job after graduation without taking any shortcuts just because society expects you to do so, pressuring them to switch over to STEM fields so they can have a better life with a stable income.

    Honestly, now that I think about it, I should probably major art as a minor. Hmmmm….

  18. Don't be silly. Liberal arts majors are underemployed and underpaid because they didn't acquire any skills that are on demand by corporations or government institutions. When they join the labor market they have to learn skills they didn't learn in college, so are at the same level as someone with a HS diploma. They can't compete with Science/Business majors for jobs because their skillset is very low.

  19. My plan is to get a job in the science industry and develop my drawing skills through self teaching and try make something out of it in the future and if it works out I'll stick with it , if not then I'll stick with science . I like both so doesn't bother me.

  20. They knew they couldn’t make a living out of it but they’re so full of themselves.
    I guess over priced coffee at star bucks is cultural too, so go crazy! ?

  21. I think in the perfect world, as an American Studies graduate, I should be given a chance to do an internship in America that will lead to many greater and better things for my job future. For English literature majors, they should be given job internships at least at a publisher maybe. History – library? Bookstore? History museum? Teacher? The list should go on and on.

  22. I think it's important to note that many of these underemployed artists are making art in their free time, when they get home from their barista job. They share it on social media, and drive the arts and humanities with their ideas. Those ideas are then cannibalized by the big media companies for profit that the original artist never sees.

    Basically, the arts are inspired. But that inspiration is mostly found in underground corners of the art world. That dialogue between artists sharing their perspectives drives demand, but they don't have the resources to supply. Big companies do, and they take those ideas, chew them up, and regurgitate them so they're different enough that it isn't just straight up theft (which is theoretically illegal), and keep the money it makes. They don't need to hire the artist. They only need to hire the people who can recreate ideas of others as efficiently as possible.

  23. This sounds like cultural marxism. The 'intelligentsia' want to teach the ignorant masses what to think and how to live their lives.

  24. The jist of this video is that rather than kids choosing to do degrees that are useful and will attain paid employment, the whole world needs to instead change to accommodate these kids with useless degrees and throw money and jobs at them… doing what exactly?

  25. Coming from a artistic person who is planning to do art at college, this sure does make my spirits go low. Blocking this video now so I never see such shit in my life again. I am not having a temper tantrum because this guy is partially saying the truth, but this comment section is 100 percent more aggravating than this video. I thought there would be artists up lifting one another spirits yet there are just a bunch of dickheads calling us lazy bastards.

  26. I would argue that an Engineer with some knowledge in arts subject will beat an arts student with no knowledge or some knowledge in engineering, all day. Maybe people should do better choices? If we imply that arts in essence are the vast amount of experience gathered through human history, than a person who studied and tapped into it would be able to solve his problem of not getting hired? If Art studied teach you problem solving, man, you won’t need to be hired cause you’re looking at the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.
    I’m talking from the perspective of someone who went to study philosophy out of passion for it, but dropped out and years later studied Architecture.
    At the end of the day, all the arts subjects could and should be studied individually apart from your main occupation. There should always be something practical to every educational subject, if there isn’t, it has no place in this fast changing world.

  27. There is demand for art. There are artists that make hundreds of thousands of dollars, whether through institutions or freelancing. The principal issue is that artists (and humanities degrees in general) are simply a dime a dozen. There is simply no scarcity of them, and consequently, their work lacks scarcity, and thus, the typical artist has little bargaining power. There will never, ever, EVER, be a shortage of artists in this day and age when attending post-secondary education has never been easier and the existence of the internet means that a formal education is not really required. Supply and demand is a concept these people would do well to understand instead of flouting their often unwarranted self-importance. Society doesn't owe them anything.

  28. The humanities are great, but they can also be studies as hobbies. Most science students I know do that on the side because they are interesting.

    If all these things are so "valuable" why can't these fantastic graduates sell its value? Ah its because the great unwashed hasn't "woken up" to how useful it could be. The fact is most students of philosophy etc haven't really considered how what they study might be useful and practical in the real world, or if they have done so they are very poor at articulating why.

  29. Art ged phd doesn't matter practice to master compensated for what you produce not what a piece of paper says about you

  30. Why not look towards knowledge integration programs where students can have double majors or separate minors in fields that can be synergistically relevant with a humanities program, and have better job prospects (i.e. Computer Science and Philosophy, or History/Political Science and Health Studies, or English and Economic Theory).

  31. I enjoy art like the last couple days ago i profited $3000 from my day trading and decided to buy a piece of art just so i can wipe my ass with it. Get a real job folks!

  32. I do art and i agree that pursuing fine arts/useless liberal arts with no commercialization is a terrible idea.
    Heres a better idea, pursue commercial arts like designs and visual communicative systems from well known schools like art center, sva, ringling, or similar. Good art education with focus on commercialization pays off if you play the cards right. Choose the right majors and right schools, if you must go to an art school.

  33. Why dont people appreciate art and ‘humanities’? Because it’s subjective, impractical, and usually unrelatable. The better question is why should i pay attention to something that i dont find any use of?
    Do art thats commercial, atleast this approach solves half of the problems listed in the video.

  34. modern art is so bad most of it looks like a child did it in 3o seconds I feel that they should pay me to look at it ., better art better income very simple problem

  35. Im 100% in favor of these subjects, but they wont get you a job, unless you want to teach. Maybe you could write books about them, IF you have the talent to write. But remember that there is a LOT of competition. Take a look in a bookstore and see how many books there are and realize also that there are TONS of people who also want to write and not everybody is going to make the big bucks needed to live in todays economy. You need LOTS of money just to get by. So you need to learn something which people will be willing to pay you for. Learn something useful, which you find also interesting and learn those other cerebral subjects (I love many of them and value them highly, but I never made much money) on your own, by reading, either your own bought books or at the library or by taking courses in the evenings after you get your much more practical career in gear.

  36. Sorry but arts in general are useless. It's sad to say but these subject specialists have no practical use to society.

  37. Im 14 and im hoping to be an successful animator. But This video kind scares me and im hoping to get the best advice o can get

  38. I was told by my lecturer in college, that the difference of college students and trades are college student was meant to be entrepreneur or job creator. Not job seeker.

    Although now I got a good job, it still hang over me, that I have not become a job creator.

  39. There's no useless degrees guys if you use it in business. Just be creative. Maybe youtube is a big business for Arts.

  40. there are too many people in humanities that is why are they underemployed, money is in technology and engineering, market values these people, not arts graduates

  41. If they truly love what they've learned, they should have stay in college after getting their bachelor degree. If they are too poor to continue the education, why even bother? Liberal Arts education wasn't set for kids from "average" households anyway.

  42. Except that the coffee-serving portrait of an arts graduate is simply a myth. Many STEM graduates want to feel like they're more important than they really are, and so they've created lies attacking the humanities. There's been numerous studies debunking these. Also important to note is that the large majority of STEM majors don't end up working in their major either.

  43. I disagree with the premise. First, I agree with the assessment of the value of the humanities to society and culture. This lesson seems to indicate that the issue is societal from the consumer side but I think it is an issue from the producer side (i.e. the graduates and academics themselves). More and more these topics are being made and produced mainly for consumption by intellectual elites; by definition something that requires multiple degrees to understand will not be accessible to as broad an audience. One reason I subscribed to this channel was the focus on distilling philosophy into usable and understandable lessons for a layperson like me that I can quickly apply to my own life. It is not society's responsibility to highly-value your work or skills; at one point Plato had to convince people that what he was doing was worth investing in. I posit that if there were more instructors focusing on how the discipline can help people live better lives then it would be leading to better overall employment for the graduates.

  44. I can see why many liberal arts majors come out hating Capitalism. It is because they cannot recognize their inferiority and failures so they must blame someone else ("THozE EviL CaPItaLisTz") for their own choices. Someone not seeing my gender studies major as useful?? Ugh, it's the neoliberal capitalists and how society only values money lols. It's time to grow up kiddos and recognize that you've fcked up big time! Only then will you accept that YOU are responsible for paying off your own loans and even going back to school to get a degree that's actually useful lol

  45. I agree that the Arts and Humanities could be useful. But external society didn't ruin them, they ruined themselves with their obsession over GenderWoke Eskimo Studies while trashing Western Civilization and pretentious million dollar paintings of lines. Blame your own industry Humanities/Art majors.

  46. "Oh, you have a history degree. Are you going to be a teacher?" The ignorance of that question boggles my mind as I watch the same shit play out today as has done over the last 100 years.

  47. Is the concept of starving artists mostly applicable in the U.S.? No offense, but I personally observe that Europeans tend to make way better art compared to Americans and I get to know more European artists. But since Americans dominate social media and the likes, we tend to view artists as a whole as poor and destitute when it's mostly concentrated in the U.S.

    Also, here in the Philippines, being a third world country, the concept of student debt isn't a thing. And I've been seeing shops and marketing companies hiring graphic artists. Although they would prefer those with a degree in graphic arts/design or similar degree.

  48. I think most of the times, is not about people don't need arts graduates. It's about less of it. Technology has make our world so different, majority don't think we need more average artists. It's a hard truth to swallow I agree. But there are so many jobs that are shrinking right now, I think people of arts need to redefine themselves. Arts cannot be erased as long as there are humans.

  49. I insisted for so many years that art was what I wanted… Art was what I loved and wanted to go to college for and despite what everyone was telling me that I would be homeless and poor for ever… I went. I wasn't going to let myself be talked out of it by people that don't value my choices or what I like… …I put in four very challenging years at a school I could just barely afford… And I graduated. I have been a new graduate for more than a year now…. And I hate everything about my life. I have worked only retail. I am not homeless, but I live with "Mommy and Daddy" and I'm gonna be here into my 30s. I have absolutely no drive to do any art anymore. After all… No one wants any from me for a reasonable price… And no one really cares. I live my life going to my underpaying retail job to pay for my car which I only drive to and from work and outside of that I exist. I am so tired… And yet… What about what was supposed to be my passion?… All art school did was show me that I am not as creative as I once thought I was. I have so many regrets and no choices. At 23 I feel like my life is over. Which makes it very hard to find a reason to wanna get up in the morning or last a full week without wanting to die… But hey… If you think art school is lazy, be my guest. Sit back and put your feet up on a studio table to try it yourself. Lemme know how that goes for you.

  50. Arts degrees are useless. They are legit memes, find something you are interested in and get a course in that, for example i am interested in computers and i study software engineering.

  51. International relations major from London, i was sad i could not find a job in UK and had to go back to my home country. I was depressed until i applied what i learnt and studied. The degree taught me about foreign trade and polices which i used to incorporate my consulting firm for trade facilitation & investment abroad. Now i recently bought a citizenship by investing €250,000 and my company is creating jobs in Europe, UK, & India. Ill soon be coming up with my new branches in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates & United States. Thats my story, from a broke international relations major to director of a $$$ global business. Apply your education in real life

  52. Why do I feel like you didn't answer the question of this video at all? It began with Why, But the whole video was all about What. There are no solution in this.

  53. If anyone see’s this I’m just afraid I’ll be a poor starving artist, I get lots of compliments of people saying my art is good and they realize I’m not in an art high school, which gives me a bit of hope

  54. It's better to learn on your own while you're in school and market yourself as well. Unfortunately these colleges dont teach students the importance of networking, because when it comes to working professionally, its more networking than it is actually making art. Obviously you need to be good too, but that's not even half the job. And for those hoping to break into the industry, make the industry come to you. Be your own business, because of the internet there are several forms of income that you can make online, you just have to do the research and put in the work. Instead of struggling to get noticed, work on what makes you happy and post it online, it's much more fulfilling and will get you more opportunities compared to trying to land the same jobs hundreds of others are shooting for. The payoff of being your own business is so much more rewarding, not to mention the working conditions and pay of these industries will never justify the amount of work you put in, it almost never does.

  55. My advice is to get a degree in a demanding field first, and if your talented enough, you might get that big break as an artist or whatever. But if not, then you have that degree to fall back on. Same with people who have hopes of being the next great athlete.

  56. Well, im studying Art 2. And its really advanced, not critical. Planning to be an Architect or Graphic Designer. But its a job at home which is an advantage.

  57. I came from a family of doctors and Professional chefs. And when I told them i wws gonna take Animation for college they gave me these weird confused stares

  58. This is so wrong . I know people who go to Art School and have a stable career. I hate those kind of videos man . It’s like you guys are saying that ART is not necessary . Haven’t you ever heard of ART TEACHER in school ? They even have Art Teacher for 1st grade . If ART wasn’t important why is it that most of you are so caught up in series , tv shoes , music videos and so on . I know some people that can’t even sleep without instrumental playing in the background, others need songs to focus on their work such as household and so on . Other people cannot workout without a song playing in their ears . ART is so vast and important and they are so many things that you can do with it so please . Don’t judge something that 99 % of us human being are obsessed about .

    Same goes for people who go to school for construction , they tend to be look down as well as people who go to school for Art , like can you BUILD your own house by yourself ? Smh
    I could go longer than that but let me stop

    Have a nice life !

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