When Charlene SanJenko launches reGEN next week, it won’t be her first start-up, but it will be the realization of a passion project more than a decade in the making.
reGEN will be an intermediary between media creators and those with the dollars to support them, but it is also to create the infrastructure of support around the projects.
“Projects are being fundraised for one by one by one by one and they’re getting produced, and, then what?” says SanJenko. “We want to make sure that it’s not only fundraising for projects, that it’s also really innovative project partnerships that might help with marketing, distribution and just building awareness…of the intention behind the projects.
“I represent one artist who has walked across Canada in six years. Like, what? What causes the person to want to do that? I want to hear just as much about that as I do the film that she’s creating.”
“There’s incredibly successful industries, like the investment industry, where intermediaries work all the time to make sure solid deals are put together, where all parties are happy,” said SanJenko. “That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m an impact deal maker.”
Creators may be Indigenous or non-Indigenous, but reGEN will have a particular focus on Indigenous content, and projects can be anything from documentaries to podcasts to theatrical performances on digital screens.
SanJenko herself is from the Splatsin band, the most southern tribe of the Secwépemc (Shuswap) Nation, her biography states.
The financial scene is no new game for SanJenko, who worked for a privately owned brokerage firm in the investment services industry in the mid ’90s. Nor is she a stranger to start-ups that are trying to create change. The former two-time Town of Gibsons councillor founded powHERhouse, an organization built to amplify changemaking women, nearly a decade ago. That organization is a sister organization of reGEN but they’re different entities.
reGEN will also be a founding tenant of the innovation hub coming to shíshálh Nation’s under-construction Our House of Clans building. Until that’s ready, SanJenko is based out of the Gibsons Public Market.
SanJenko’s vision goes beyond just the projects she aims to find funding and support for, she wants to see change in the media industry.
“Media has the power to shift the trajectory of our future. We are shaping the future we want with purchasing decisions, budget priorities, and streaming choices as the veil grows thinner and thinner between what we see in a day and who we become,” said SanJenko in an open letter to media. “We have an opportunity to elevate advertising to innovative partnerships that support storytellers, creators, filmmakers, and artists to create the future we want with the media we see. There is a better way.”
It all starts with reGEN’s launch later this week. To start off, there’s a table of 20 on May 6, “bringing some bright people together to have a bit of that conversation of – how did we regroup?”
“I feel like the community is just needing a little bit of grounding and lifting and support and cohesion building as we get this season under way,” said SanJenko.
Then, there’s a launch celebration May 7 and a virtual LinkedIn Live Media Panel on May 9. Only the media panel is open to the public.
Find more information on the powHERhouse website.