“Creative courage for me is about having the right partnerships—it’s a powerful way to inspire creativity so that we can be courageous together.”
Article excerpted from 2015/2016 Impact Report from Creative BC.
Phillip Djwa has always had an issue with fairness. From a very young age, he noticed things happening in the world that didn’t seem fair. As an adult, he decided to use his energy to address that inequality by working with not-for-profits. He went on to start a dance company in Montreal and became passionate about bridging the arts with technology. When he started Agentic Digital Media in the early 2000s, he looked to his friends who were making a difference in the world, both through technology and the arts, and asked how he could best support them.
“I was interested in technology and how it impacted our society,” reflects Phillip, “and that led me to work with social change clients around the world.” He has worked with non-profits, governments, First Nations and most recently a virtual reality project related to the police shootings in the United States. “A driving force for us has been to create work that is socially aware and addresses the issues we see.”
There is a vein of creativity in all the work that Phillip does. He divides his work into three categories: the core, the adjacent and the transformational. At the core are the digital campaigns and websites he and his team create. The adjacent offerings include content strategy, search engine marketing and usability. The third tier is what propels Phillip forward —the transformational work that often leads to innovation.
Transformation involves disruption, and as Phillip remarks, “we always need to be aware of the next technology around the corner, and we need to be prepared to reskill and relearn what we know.”
Creative BC has funded several of Phillips transformational projects, including Scene Change Theatre, where he peeled back the layers surrounding casting to examine the impact of people’s experiences. “As a person of colour, I see that something like casting is not often diverse, and so I set to answer the question: does casting impact the story being told?” He played with the notion of casting, mixing things like gender and race.
“I wanted to see the Canada that I live in reflected in the media I consume.”
Earlier this year, Phillip was invited to participate in Creative BC’s strategic planning process where he got to not only connect with like minds, but also create connections that have since led to new opportunities. “Creative BC gives us the opportunity to meet others, and they help us understand the economic and social drivers that can either support or detract from our business objectives.
They also help create a sustainable ecosystem for projects that focus on innovation and new technologies.” That’s how social change is created—by having the courage to support creativity, even when it seeks to disrupt the very foundation of what we know.