Animation UK: Review and Future Focus

Opinion  |  23 September 2018

Following a long, hot and eventful summer, it looks like we are in for an even more eventful Autumn season. Whatever happens with the wider context, our focus will remain firmly on securing the best conditions for growth of the animation sector through policy, advocacy and influence.

Animation UK’s key challenges and actions in upcoming months are to be focused on the issues below.

Business Matters

In July, Ofcom’s comprehensive review of the problems facing children’s television in the UK was published. In our response earlier in the year, Animation UK highlighted the ongoing market failure and lack of high quality, UK originated content, and called for Ofcom to use the powers granted to them in the Digital Economy Act in 2017.

Although the Ofcom response highlighted the lack of original high-quality programmes for older children across all programme genres, disappointingly the conclusions about the next steps do not include quotas and are open ended.  Whilst understanding the difficulties and challenges of setting regulation when it is increasingly possible for audiences to view content online and through VoD services, we will be active in actively progressing discussions with the PSBs, who have until March 2019 to respond. As the debate continues, Animation UK will be discussing this issue directly with Ofcom at our next Council meeting and through open debates such as the Westminster Forum. Please share your views with us to inform the debate.

On a more positive note we are looking forward to the launch of the Public Service Content Contestable Fund, which the DCMS has committed entirely to the children’s and youth audience, and for which Animation UK strenuously argued in advance of the subsequent groundswell. The launch will test new commissioning and funding models, with original content able to reach a wider age-range of children on several free to air platforms. This, coupled with clear and regulated commitments from PSBs, has the potential to reverse the market failure.

In addition, the BFI managed Contestable Fund, along with the potential for a new BFI animation-specific shorts development programme – informed by a strong partnership between Animation UK and the Animation Alliance – give some seeds for optimism and shows how a strong and animation specific voice is now having an impact.

Taking stock and looking forward.

Next month, the BFI plan to launch the results of the tax breaks value, which will greatly impact on Animation, as well as other screen sectors.

Prospectively this will capture the growth and impact of the Animation Tax Relief, put in place as a direct result of the work of Animation UK.

We are aware that this research will provide just a fraction of the wider value of animation – for example, lacking consideration of commercials animation – and we intend to build a more absolute picture in the months ahead, including capturing the value of animation skills across other sectors.The new figures to be published, will be based on analysis of content produced in 2016.

It is vital that we urgently record the impact from the post referendum years on the Animation sector as, looking forward, this will enable us to map the effect this is continuing to have on the sector in the UK. We at Animation UK will need your help to gather this information and will be asking for your input via a survey in the next few weeks. We hope to use this opportunity to gather more information about exports also.

Skills & Talent

High on the list of concerns from our members is the current skills gap and shortages in animation.

The UK Screen Alliance representation on the impact of any reduction in the mobility of labour has produced a powerful evidence-based campaign, led by CEO Neil Hatton.

In addition, we are actively reviewing the current existing skills shortages in the UK and working with partners to find ways of increasing investments in training, along with developing new approaches to education and industry partnerships. Look out for our Animation Skills Report to be published next month along with plans to create a new partnership between the sector and key higher education providers.

With Creative Skillset leading on the discussions about the existing levy arrangements, Animation UK aims to coordinate a new partnership with our UK animation schools – modelled on best practice in the European centres of excellence.

If you have views, concerns or interest, please contact us.

Supporting Animation Exports

Animation UK will have a seat on the new Industry Export Board, expected to meet later in the autumn.  This will give us an opportunity to present the case for increased support for companies at key markets, such as Kidscreen, CICF (CICAF/IABC (China’s premier festival, conference and market for the animation sector)  and Annecy. Annecy, including providing a focus for promotion of the sector during 2019.

And in the meantime for those attending MIPJunior, Kate O’Connor will be attending and available to meet to discuss any of the above.

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