Creatives Empowered Hopes to Open More Doors to IBPOC Arts Professionals

by Lisa Mackay


Shivani Saini (RAFT 2018) has worked in the professional film, tv, and media industry for over 25 years in every facet of the sector, from talent to creative and production. She also runs the creative agency Atelier Culturati, which draws on her experiences and networks to provide consulting, producing, and public relations across multiple disciplines, with a vision to create and support works that positively transform the human condition. In 2019 she became acutely aware of both the empowering and disempowering experiences she was encountering in the cultural sector, and the systemic racism and unconscious bias that lay beneath the latter. In 2020, Saini recognized both the need and the opportunity for an organization dedicated to representing and advocating for Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPOC) in the film, tv, and media industry, as well as the wider arts and culture sector. The site CreativesEmpowered.ca went live in November of 2020, and this non-profit organization has quickly gained a substantial number of racialized members. The website is the virtual delivery of the Creatives Empowered mission, explained Saini. While in-person events will happen once it is safe to hold them, having the site allows Creatives Empowered to deliver on their mandate by reaching IBPOC talent in communities both inside and outside of the major centres. Their focus is firmly on serving Alberta. “We thought we would serve the province in a more authentic way by being an organization for Alberta, in Alberta, by Alberta folks,” explained Saini. The mission of Creatives Empowered has several aspects. As stated on the website, “we exist as a safe and supportive community for artists + creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, based in western Canada. We advocate for and represent our members and their needs. We increase professional opportunities for IBPOC talent. We provide empowering and educational resources, and professional development. We network, collaborate, and share with like-minded individuals and organizations across Canada, and worldwide.” The website content supports each of these aspects. There is a listing of Events, both those open to the public and those specifically for the IBPOC community. Recordings of past events are kept here and are worth watching. The beautifully presented listing of resources on the bottom of this page gives a sense of the content and meaning of each resource listed, not simply a link. There is also an Opportunities section; a free classified service that connects the cultural sector with IBPOC artists and creatives. Organizations with professional opportunities can add to the listings via an online form and easily reach a wide audience of potential IBPOC candidates. “There are other organizations who are doing great work compiling databases of IBPOC talent and professionals,” explained Saini. “We didn’t want to replicate work already being done, so we went at it from the opposite angle. This way companies can get their opportunities out to as many people in the IBPOC community as possible.” Saini describes this year as a time to build their operational base, but has great plans for Creatives Empowered and the impact it will have on Alberta’s arts sector. “I have so often been the only person of colour on a set or in a meeting, and I wish there had been an organization like this in my early career,” Saini said. “Creatives Empowered is a way for me to connect with other IBPOC professionals, and to give back to the community by providing this platform for IBPOC talent in any stage of their career. There is no better time for this.”

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