Union Savings Takes the Hit for CT Film Fest’s Censorship

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by Amanda Bloom

It appears that both The Mercurial and Union Savings Bank were given false information in regards to a case of censorship within the Connecticut Film Festival.

In consequence, an article published on The Mercurial and in the Fairfield Weekly led readers to believe that Union Savings had asked a band to change their name for their scheduled performance on CTFF’s opening night, an event sponsored by Union Savings.

In fact, CTFF executive director Tom Carruthers had requested that the band change their name. It also appears that Carruthers essentially intercepted communications between The Mercurial and Union Savings, thereby preventing the bank from clarifying the misinformation.

by Amanda Bloom

ON MONDAY, MAY 10, THE MERCURIAL PUBLISHED “Ain’t Too Proud to Play”, an article investigating the attempted censorship of local folk band The Proud Flesh and The Mercurial itself. An edited version of the article was also published in the Fairfield Weekly. After the article went live on the Weekly’s website on Tuesday, May 11, The Mercurial received a phone call from the Assistant Vice President of Marketing Communications at Union Savings Bank. She wished to clarify that Union Savings had been erroneously blamed for requesting The Proud Flesh to change their name for the Connecticut Film Festival.Union Savings Bank issued this statement to The Mercurial on May 12:

“Union Savings Bank’s support of the arts – across all spectrums – has been consistent throughout the years. From events such as the Gas Ball Festival to the Ives Summer Concert Series, the Connecticut Ballet and after school arts programs, we are advocates for access to the arts in our communities. We have supported the Connecticut Film Festival since its inception 3 years ago and feel that it is both a catalyst for economic growth and revitalization in downtown Danbury and a destination event that brings folks together and exposes them to many different art forms and educational opportunities. As one of the many event sponsors of the Film Festival, we were not involved in the selection of films, music, workshop content or any other aspects of the event and left that in the capable hands of the organizers. As such, at no point did we request that the organizers of the Connecticut Film Festival change anything, including a change to the band Proud Flesh’s name. This was erroneously reported in your article entitled, Ain’t to Proud to Play, which was posted on fairfieldweekly.com on May 11th.”


In fact, CTFF executive director Tom Carruthers had requested that the band change their name. It also appears that Carruthers essentially intercepted communications between The Mercurial and Union Savings, thereby preventing the bank from clarifying the misinformation.

It appears that both The Mercurial and Union Savings were given false information in regards to the name change, and in consequence, “Ain’t Too Proud To Play” led readers to believe that Union Savings had asked The Proud Flesh to change their name for their scheduled performance on CTFF’s opening night, an event sponsored by Union Savings.In fact, CTFF executive director Tom Carruthers had requested that the band change their name. It also appears that Carruthers essentially intercepted communications between The Mercurial and Union Savings, thereby preventing the bank from clarifying the misinformation.

In The Mercurial’s May 11 phone conversation with Union Savings Bank, the AVPMC stated that after The Mercurial went to Union Savings on April 28 to get a statement about the name change, she had called Carruthers for an explanation. She said that Carruthers informed her that there had been a misunderstanding and that he would contact The Mercurial to set the record straight.

According to the AVPMC, Carruthers said that The Proud Flesh sometimes went by a different name, then assured her that he would contact The Mercurial and take sole responsibility for requesting the name change. She also said that Carruthers had said that he would tell The Mercurial to contact the AVPMC if there was any need for clarification on the name change.

Attempts to contact Carruthers in regards to this phone conversation were unsuccessful.

The Proud Flesh does not go by a different name, and The Mercurial was never contacted by Carruthers to clarify the situation.

The Mercurial regrets that Union Savings became involved in an issue of censorship in which they had no part. This is truly unfortunate, seeing that Union Savings is in fact a staunch supporter of the arts and freedom of the arts.

An hour after going to Union Savings for the intial statement on April 28, The Mercurial received a phone call from Dave Bonan, CTFF’s Director of New Music and Media. Bonan asked that the story not be published; officials at Union Savings were upset and had implied that if the story ran, funding for opening night would be pulled.The Mercurial refused to dismiss the story but agreed to hold publication until the film festival was over in order to keep the bank as a sponsor. Bonan also sent these emails to The Mercurial on April 28:

At 1pm:

tom is peeved that you never contacted him about this.

At 5:40pm:

Here’s the problem Amanda.

We don’t want you to run the story after CTFF. I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, but you need to look at the big picture here and in the LONG TERM.

We couldn’t do the CTFF Music without your help with Heirloom. Think about it this way. If you run this story, Union Savings Bank will never throw money our way again, esp music events, and they fund MANY downtown music events.

Is it worth it to jeopardize this relationship?

Tom is angry because you never chatted with him.

How many people do you expect to read your story on your site? Enough to make an impact? What will that impact do?

You running the story jeopardizes your relationship with “us” and Union Savings Bank. If you ever want to be involved with downtown events again, they will remember you as that person who caused trouble and they will not want to work with you because they will associate you thru 6 degrees of separation.

That sounds weird when i say it, b/c i like to cause trouble, but i’ve learned the hard way over the years to suck it up.

Dave”

Attempts to contact Bonan in regards to the phone call and emails were were unsuccessful.

Carruthers called the Weekly and admitted censorship upon learning that “Ain’t Too Proud to Play” was being published. This statement appears in print:

“CTFF executive director Tom Carruthers said that he alone made the decision to ask for the name to be changed, concerned about the potential reaction from sponsors, and not as a result of pressure from any single corporate supporter, including the bank. Carruthers said Union Savings knew nothing of the situation until contacted for this the [sic] story in The Mercurial.”

This statement did not appear in the Weekly’s online version of “Ain’t Too Proud to Play” on May 11.

The Mercurial regrets that Union Savings became involved in an issue of censorship in which they had no part. This is truly unfortunate, seeing that Union Savings is in fact a staunch supporter of the arts and freedom of the arts.

by & filed under Local, Local News.