RFC's bipoc artpreneur program

Written by Sarah Lutot and Akima A. Brown

All too often, creatives who identify as Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) are not afforded the opportunities readily accessible to their White counterparts. There is often differential treatment toward BIPOC workers in terms of the lack of shared opportunities for increased pay, job promotions, and vital industry information. For BIPOC creative business owners, their lack of basic fundamentals like licensing, credentials, and legal space of operation are often made to be synonymous with being unqualified rather than indicative of  systemic barriers and inequity.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity, and the economy, BIPOC workers, on average, are not being promoted or given the opportunities that, based on their education and experience, they should easily be offered. 

This ties to the tokenism that holds BIPOC workers back in their creative fields because of companies or organizations looking to increase their diversity numbers as a surface-level quick fix rather than to make systemic changes to their workplaces structures and culture. BIPOC creatives deserve equitable access to success in the fields that fulfill them. This is especially true as it pertains to BIPOC creatives who work as freelancers and entrepreneurs.



Delaware, the state where Reel Families for Change (RFC) is chartered, the organization has emphasized the importance of providing localized interventions for those working in the creative economy, especially creatives identifying as BIPOC.  

RFC, along with 16 other nonprofit organizations, was acknowledged by The Delaware Community Foundation and African American Empowerment Fund of Delaware for their work to spearhead support for BIPOC creatives in the region. RFC, specifically, was awarded $20,000 to design a programmatic strategy for addressing the issues they noted in their proposal.

The result: The Artrepreneur Training Program; a free ten-week intensive career accelerator for BIPOC creative entrepreneurs in the mid-Atlantic region.  With the help of additional supporters like Women in Film and Video-DC and BTG Multimedia Group, the organization is aptly positioned to service creatives beyond the First State for maximum regional impact.

The program exists to develop BIPOC entrepreneurs in the creative economy; equipping them with the needs, skills and resources to benefit their overall success: from market entry and sustainability, to economic growth/recovery and government contractual opportunities.  

In an effort to fortify such endeavors, various regional arts councils have begun to embed equity and inclusion into their strategic plans and community programs. Some, like the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies have begun to emphasize the integration of commercial arts.

In Delaware specifically, the Delaware Division of Arts (DDOA) has a multi-year strategic plan in place to improve equity in the creative space and to focus more on for-profit creative businesses and professionals. By 2025, the DDOA aims to improve access to arts education with focused funding, encourage exposure to diversified arts experiences, revise the grantmaking process to create more equitable opportunities, support new modes of creative expression, and more.

This multi-part plan is in the works, and this incubator plans to address these issues before its enactment to ensure that marginalized communities are not behind the curve when they are. The Artrepreneur Training Program combined with the DDOA’s strategic plan aim to close the advancement and achievement gaps in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic’s Delmarva region.

About The Program

The creative economy consists of crafts, media production, video game design, music, fashion, live events, venue entertainment and more. This sector was the second-most adversely affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 63% of creative professionals noted being unemployed during some, if not most/all, of the pandemic. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs working in arts spaces were already experiencing hardship due to lack of resources and access supports for American arts workers, but this issue is further exacerbated by race — which only became more prevalent during COVID. Our program aims to combat COVID-closures and help BIPOC creative entrepreneurs learn the skills to grow and sustain their business — even in the midst of crisis. We’ll address issues, unique to BIPOC creative entrepreneurs and provide the tools to overcome them quickly, efficiently, and gracefully.

Frequently Asked Questions

This is the first time that Reel Families for Change will launch this program. 

Thanks to generous donations from the Delaware Community Foundation, the Delaware Division for the ArtsDigtal Lift (by Monday.com), and BTG Multimedia Group, we look forward to serving twenty (20) Mid-Atlantic creative entrepreneurs this fall during our inaugural session. 

Want to know more about the data that built this program, our partnerships, or what’s next?
Email press@reelfamilies.org for more. 

Are you an individual or entity that wants to sponsor a BIPOC creative entrepreneur or would like to serve as a subject matter expert for our forum? Contact us at partnerships@reelfamilies.org today. 

Click the button  “Apply Now ” at the top of this page.

We will be tracking participants up to 24 months post-completion. During this time, we will be looking at quantitative metrics, such as the number of graduated you have:

(i) registered their businesses with the state; 

(ii) successfully acquired Diversity Supplier Certification;

(iii) submitted and been approved for government contract verification; 

(iv) procured government contracts; 

(v) demonstrated a 20% increase in sales and/or 5-8% increase in profits; and

(vi) joined community organizing initiatives related to business development, BIPOC wealth advancement, or other adjacent activities to help contribute to building systems and bridging networking and wealth gaps.

Though this is the first time that Reel Families for Change will be administering this program, our team has over eighty collective years of experience with acceleration and accessibility programming. 

Our instructors are all industry leaders, versed in the nuances of executive leadership, wealth management, business profitability and scale, BIPOC business ownership, and running a profitable creative business.

Naturally, there are always things to learn when conducting a project or program for the first time, but we’ve all committed to bringing our proven best practices to the table to see our communities and our peers thrive.

Yes.  We will be offering the program again next fall. Join our mailing list and stay tuned for opportunities to apply next summer for the Fall 2023 session.

If you have a specific question and don’t see an answer here, feel free to reach out to us on our Contact Page.  

You can also drop us a line at hello@reelfamilies.org and a member of our Programs Team will be happy to assist you.