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Lights, camera, action on empowered BIPOC creatives

The ultimate vision of Creatives Empowered is to explore and encourage new and diverse ways of creating works that are inherently non-colonial, to create a more equitable cultural sector that accurately reflects the world we live in, and to eliminate systemic racism within arts and culture.

It's a new initiative in media whose time is long overdue. 

Creatives Empowered is a collective of artists and creatives from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) community. This allied community from long marginalized ethnic and racial groups is setting up to better represent its emerging and established members in the worlds of film, TV, media and the arts in Western Canada.

"We exist as a safe and supportive community for racialized artists and creatives," offered founder Shivani Saini.

"Our primary purpose is to empower our members – to empower racialized talent within Alberta's cultural sector."

This is the first organization of its kind in the province. It is meant to work by advocating for and representing its members and their needs as well as increasing professional opportunities for them by providing empowering and educational resources, events and professional development, and also by networking, collaborating and sharing with like-minded individuals and organizations across Canada and around the world.

"Our ultimate vision, really, is to create a more equitable cultural sector that reflects the world that we live in," she added, noting that a notable lack of diversity is a massive problem that is pervasive in many sectors all around the world.

In an ideal world, she added, systemic racism within arts and culture would be eliminated so initiatives such as Creatives Empowered aren't necessary in the first place.

Saini explained she was inspired to start Creatives Empowered in 2019 after a long mixture of professional experiences over 25 years of professional and media experiences, mostly in Alberta. Often, she was the only one or one of a scant few visible minorities interviewing in the room. Even though it's 2020 and even though the population of visible minorities has increased, the diversity within roles of power hasn't changed.

"When I was in my formative years, I never had access to an organization or a resource like this. I would have loved to have had something like that because it would have helped me to understand that I was not alone. In a way, creating this organization is a way for me to give back." 

The organization also works to explore and encourage new and diverse ways of creating works that are inherently non-colonial in order to provide a truer definition of diversity, one which engages different worldviews and different ways of thinking.

Creatives Empowered was only unveiled a week ago and has already found a wellspring of interest from the BIPOC communities working in media and arts. This fact, Saini said, proves not only that systemic racism is a serious impediment to industry but also that there is a wealth of untapped talent just waiting for the opportunity to shine.

"It’s critical for Alberta’s cultural industries to understand that BIPOC creative talent does exist, and that it’s beautifully potent," she wrote in her press release, later adding during the interview, "We really need to dismantle a lot of the negative stereotypes that seem to exist of racialized professionals.

"I've had so many conversations with colleagues and peers who are racialized across the country of all experience levels. In all of those conversations, I've heard the same things being said. I've seen the same type of experience. There's just a clear understanding amongst folks who are racialized, how prevailing a lot of these negative stereotypes are, and just how systemic the discrimination and the racism really is. These negative stereotypes just aren't true. I can prove that with the membership base that we have."

Membership is free for individuals who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or a Person of Colour, and for BIPOC-run organizations. Membership fees for allies are based on annual operating budgets. For more information on the organization, memberships, and to subscribe, people can visit creativesempowered.ca.


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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