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Cartoon Forum: E.U. Animation Industry Pushes for Financing, Branding, Talent

Europe’s animation sector reps unveil a Preferential Animation Support Plan at the 2017 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse

TOULOUSE, France — The European animation sector unveiled Tuesday at Toulouse’s Cartoon Forum a new and long-mooted E.U. Preferential Animation Support Plan that identifies promotion, financing and retaining talent in Europe as some of the priorities for E.U. action.

The action plan, made after the E.U. identified animation as a sector meriting special support, will now see the European Commission, the executive arm of the E.U., ”continue the dialogue with the animation sector. We will reflect how best the Media Programme can answer their needs,” Irina Sofletea. European Commission policy officer, told Variety.

The plan’s presentation was made by Philippe Alessandri, president of trade body Animation Europe, Cartoon Forum president Christian Davin and Tom Van Waveren, chairman of the Netherlands’ Animation Producers Assn.

It comes as Europe’s animation sector, viewed against the broadest of timelines, has certainly registered growth. 76 animated features were produced in Europe over 1984-1998, 361 over 1999-2013. European toon movies sold 20 million admissions during the first period, 220 million during the second.

Though normally costlier, animation sells better by far than other European film products, as the territorial sales reach of recent European hits shown in a promo video at Toulouse suggested. “Shaun the Sheep” sold in 85 countries), “My Life as a Zucchini” to 50, ”Richard the Stork” to 155, while ”Tad the Lost Explorer closed sales for 85 markets. Recent TV hits take in “Peppa Pig” (191 countries), “Little Princess” (177), “Oggy and the Cockroaches” (160), “The Jungle Bunch” (180), “Pocoyo” (160 countries) and “Raving Rabbids” (110).

But digital platform distribution is challenging incumbent broadcasters, as young audiences massively migrating to new media, where content monetization is an uphill task. So the E.U., via its Creative Europe Media Programme, is looking to lend increased support to Europe’s animation sector. The E.U. Preferential Animation Support Plan, in the eyes of the sector itself, identifies three axis along which tats support could be made.

With regards to financing, the Plan suggests that the European Commission’s Cultural and Creative Sectors’ Guarantee Facility could in the future ease access to deficit financing facilities for European animation companies. The move comes as public funding and broadcast network sales are decreasing and most banks lack the expertise to evaluate the long-term financing plans of animation products and credit risk.

Europe needs to encourage gifted European animators to return and open their own studios while there is still a “skills gap” in storytelling –  which can be addressed in part by industry-led courses and advanced programs, the Plan also suggested.

The Plan added that European animation needs brand recognition, including investment in promotion, as well as a perception that this is necessary among traditional industry players. As Sofletea suggested, talks will now continue between Europe’s Animation Industry and the Media Programme regarding more concrete measures.

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