Shivani Saini was tired of watching herself and her Black Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) friends and colleagues not having the same opportunities in the arts. She wanted to see more BIPOC artists on TV, in films, making art.
Saini created Creatives Empowered to help artists whose skin isn’t white.
Creatives Empowered can help new and established artists from Western Canada.
Alberta is the main focus.
“We do it by increasing professional opportunities,” said Saini. “By providing empowering, educational resources, events and professional development…Also by networking, collaborating and sharing with like minded individuals and organizations.”
Actress and director Georgina Lightning is a founding member.
She says she could have used a support system when she started acting thirty years ago.
“It’s something I never had… I was by myself when I joined,” said Lightning who is from Samson Cree Nation. “There was no kind of role models or anybody that I had access to that could support me.”
Creatives Empowered wants to change that.
It’s new and still building up a membership base.
Membership is free if you are BIPOC from Alberta. Memberships are also available to others and organizations.
Lightning said the talent in the arts is here.
“I think once we build membership… who wants to get involved, I think there’s enough people there to build a crew. Or 2. Or maybe 6. We need to keep building it,” she said.
Saini said the diversification wouldn’t negatively impact a project.
“We really need to dismantle the negative stereotypes of racialized professionals… like the talent doesn’t exist, or we don’t know where to find it. Or they are not qualified enough… Or that diversity somehow equals lower quality or results,” said Saini. “And the reality is these stereotypes simply are not true.”