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U.K. Toon Biz Upbeat Thanks to Tax Credit Boost

British co-pro opportunities to be discussed at Annecy

LONDON — Blighty’s toon biz has a renewed sense of optimism thanks to a highly anticipated tax break for U.K. animation, which went into effect on April 1. The tax credit, and the opportunities for international co-production that spring from it, will be the subject of a panel discussion Friday at Annecy’s Intl. Animation Film Market.

While the draft legislation won’t officially become law until late July, the U.K. animation biz can look to benefit from the same tax credits that the territory has afforded to the film biz for years: a 25% credit of U.K. spend on up to 80% of a qualifying production’s core budget.

There is hope that this boost will see the country’s local talent stay put in the U.K., rather than move to other countries with favorable tax breaks, such as Ireland and Canada, all of which now house many British-born toons, such as “Noddy” (Ireland) and “Thomas and Friends” (Canada).

“We’re going to keep more talent here, most importantly, because we’re getting this tax benefit and we can now invest in the future,” said Oli Hyatt, co-founder of animation company Blue Zoo and chair of Animation U.K., an org set up in 2010 to protect the interests of the toon biz.

“Prior to this, we were living hand-to-mouth, which is dangerous because the industry then becomes really separated,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt, who led the discussions for the tax credit with Blighty’s chancellor George Osborne and minister for culture Ed Vaizey, said that while this tax credit won’t necessarily bring back the country’s exported talent, it will see a surge of new skills, new people and new work created in the animation business.

“A few may return,” he said. “But this will pull more work back into the business and I certainly think the real excitement is looking forward to the next ‘Peppa Pig’ and the next ‘Bob the Builder.’”

And, Hyatt said, this is already attracting interest in co-productions from all corners of the globe: “I’ve already had discussions with one American company, which is looking very exciting.”

“Historically, the U.K. has had some of the best animated and creative talent in the world,” he said. “And people from all over the globe are now looking to come here and it’s important that we get it right.”

Panelists at the Annecy event on Friday are Moses Nyachae, director of film and TV, Saffery Champness; Sarah Muller, head of acquisitions and drama development, CBBC; Anna Mansi, the British Film Institute’s head of certification; and Serious Lunch CEO Genevieve Dexter. Discussions will include analysis of the implications of the tax break for international co-production.

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