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Mentoring program seeks to fill underrepresented roles for film, music and fashion in Hamilton

The City of Hamilton is offering an assistance program for female entrepreneurs in film, music, or fashion seeking mentoring from experienced businesses in their creative field. Global News

A Hamilton entrepreneur program is hoping to inspire females and those identifying as transgender, gender fluid, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals, to fill underrepresented roles in the city’s film, music and fashion sectors.

The Women+ in (Creative) Business Mentoring Program has been seeking individuals who have started businesses within the last six months to five years and would be open to counselling and networking to increase their scope in three growing business areas.

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Business Development Consultant for Creative Industries Debbie Spence says the reasons behind a push in the “highly collaborative” territories are to close gaps that see few women participants and offer support for those impacted by the recent COVID pandemic.

“This sector really benefits from informal and also formal networking or mentoring types of things,” Spence told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

“In terms of film and music, in particular, there’s long been an identified need provincially, nationally and even internationally for more women-plus led businesses.”

A 2019 UCLA College of Letters and Science study confirmed women and minorities were underrepresented in North America’s film industry by about a three-to-one margin  – particularly in directing, writing, and executive positions.

Read more: Canadian businesses owned by women taking nearly twice as long to recover from COVID-19

The fashion sector, typically propped up by female consumers spending three times more on product than men, had fewer than 50 per cent representation in designing while 14 per cent constituted the number of women executives in the business, according to a 2018 report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Additionally, the pandemic aggravated women-owned businesses across all industries in Canada, with it taking them nearly twice as long to recover from financial setbacks than outlets operated by male counterparts.

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Boasting a workforce of more than 7,500 people through at least 500 fashion-oriented outlets, Hamilton finds itself fifth-best among Canada’s fashion-related occupations, behind Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa, based on StatCan data.

In 2021, movie production in Hamilton not only recovered to levels seen pre-pandemic but hit a record level with at least 150 filings for permits, beating out the previous mark of 141 in 2019.

“We’ve just seen that pressure for more content and more filming just continuing to drive demand and it’s just stayed really steady in Hamilton and continues to grow,” said Kim Adrovez, senior project manager at the city’s film office.

An estimated 9,000 film workers reside in the Hamilton area specializing in technical jobs, hair and makeup as well as art, set and costume design.

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Spence says those are the opportunities the Women+ Program is targeting through the six mentors from Hamilton-based businesses they’ve recruited.

“They’ll offer some guidance and feedback around the key skills and competencies within those areas and then also around business planning, client or customer development,” said Spence.

“It’s really intended to match someone who’s emerging with an existing business and … offer some of those lessons that they learned along the way.”

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The city has two consultants in each of the different areas, who begin relationships with successful candidates through an initial three-hour planning session.

Space is limited and the initial application deadline is May 23.

Eligibility criteria includes:

  • A film, music, or fashion operation within Hamilton city limits (including Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and Waterdown)
  • In operation for six months to five years
  • Be led/owned by a woman, transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, or gender non-conforming individual.

Interested parties can apply on the City of Hamilton’s website

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