*I was invited to this event by We Are Waterloo in exchange for a blog post. As always my thoughts, views and opinions are my own. If you want to know more about my policy on gifted experiences you can read my disclaimer.
I wrapped up Black History Month this year with an event by We Are Waterloo. The topic of conversation for their final #PowWowWaterloo event was Black Creatives. As much as I am often in creative spaces, the conversation around the representation of black creatives within the creative industry is a topic that warrants a layered discussion.
The creative industry like most industries is dominated by white individuals and often stays that way as the gatekeepers of those spaces like to keep it like that. There are some changes being made due to the rise of people creating their own spaces, communities and tables. The internet’s and social media has played a huge part in bringing the lack of Representation and diversity to the attention of many.
On arrival, I saw the poster that read ”14% Creative” and initially thought that was the percentage of Black Creatives within industry. Later on, during the panel discussion, myself and the rest of the attendees came to find out that the 14% actually represents the increase of Black, Asain And Minority Ethnic (BAME) within the Creative Industry since 2011. Sometimes in our communities, we feel like we make up a much larger percentage of the creative industry, it is not until you enter a white and often male dominated space that you get an uncomfortable reality check.
“I didn’t know about the stat, but it doesn’t really surprise me, because when you are in the industry, or you’re just manoeuvring and doing what you do you can feel it.” – Emmanuel / Fine Arts Artist & Co-Founder of Unaji
The Panel Discussion: Taking Action
There was a great raw and honest panel discussion including black creatives from a variety of industries. I left with the passion to continue creating a space for conversation and growth. There were so many gems from the evening, I felt drawn to every word Shereen had to say.
“I feel like you need to move your power play, I need to move myself in a position of power so that I can bring other people up with me because it is absolutely lonely when you’re the only one in the room” – Shereen Jasmin Phillips / Producer & Playwriter
I loved that the discussion was very much centred around what can be done, as opposed to just sharing our struggles.
The biggest and hardest solution is to take action instead of waiting for permission and create the spaces and opportunities we need. However not all of us want to be the CEO’s and Founders of these companies, so I do wonder where that leaves us? Should we continue working in those companies that weren’t made for us, instead of creating our own companies? I think that is another conversation to be had.
In the meantime, I do think we sometimes need to have those uncomfortable conversations within our workspaces, maybe even suggest ways to get more diverse individuals involved.
“When we have these conversations, we can actually then have a discussion on what we can do. There is a lot of talk, but we actually need action and everyone needs to take that on board because nobody is going to do it for us.” – Veronica McKenzie / Writer, Director & Producer
How Do We Increase This Percentage?
- Support the creatives that are already on the scene, this helps get them into a position where they can make choices, hire people and make changes.
- This stat should remind us that there is room for us. Yes, we are not the largest population within the UK, however, we sure can make up more than 14%.
- Continue working on the communities and businesses you have created.
- Share and create opportunities for others to join you. Community is key! By sharing opportunities with like minded people and creating opportunities within your field, we create a community of individuals who are experienced and confident within their field and can continue to grow.
- If you are already within the industry, create a safe environment for team members to come to you so that they can pitch ideas.
Thank you We Are Waterloo for the invitation, myself and Ray had a great time, the panel discussion was my favourite part of the evening, the conversation that was had was necessary. Not a criticism, I do however think there needs to be more action as well as conversation.
Opportunities to get more minority individuals into the creative industry will require changing the people and/or the attitudes of those already in the room. The conversations also needs to involve the people within the industry otherwise, it is just black and brown people having these discussions, whilst everyone else continues and nothing changes. I always enjoy a good conversation and advice from those within the industry, the insight and experiences shared will always be necessary.