The Children’s Media Conference 2023: Powering up the future of kids’ content

Features  |  25 July 2023

The Children’s Media Conference (CMC) ran from 4-6 July in Sheffield this year. From engaging panels to entertaining receptions, take a look back at the conference as we recap some of the highlights.

Animation Assemble! panel
Photo by iD8 Photography

Animation UK recently returned to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield. The three days of the conference were filled with pitching sessions, networking opportunities, receptions and panels, ranging from discussions on the rise of AI and the future of UK children’s content, to IP ownership, investment and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the industry. This year’s keynotes were given by historian and broadcaster David Olusoga in the Opening Keynote and author and curator Sharna Jackson in the Creative Keynote.

Other speaker highlights included CMC’s Changemakers – young people who are achievers, innovators or campaigners with something to say to the CMC audience. This year’s Changemakers were Anissa, Omari Bailey, Imayah Dayes, Emmerson, Izzy Garbutt, Olga Kravchenko, Zayden Lindsay, Elijah McKenzie-Jackson and Max Woosey BEM. Learn more about these talented individuals here.

Question Time panel
Photo by Dean Atkins Photography

On Wednesday’s Question Time panel, we heard from leading figures in the industry, politics and regulation, who discussed their views on some of the main strategic and policy issues facing the children’s and youth media business today. The session was produced by Marc Pallis from Neu Westend Press and executive produced by Helen McAleer from Helen McAleer Ltd. 

The discussion was moderated by Kids Industries’ Gary Pope, and speakers included Animation UK’s Kate O’Connor, Ofcom’s Kate Biggs, BBC’s Patricia Hidalgo, Thread Media’s Jenk Oz and Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity’s Marcus Ryder MBE. They conversed about diversity, the support for British children’s content, and the issues in animation’s creative, regulatory and financial spheres. Topics like tax relief, the Media Bill, the Online Safety Bill and our place in international markets, were highlighted.

We also attended Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, where we heard live pitches and voted for the best project alongside a panel of judges; and Power Up Your IP, where we received insights on how to diversify brands across multiple platforms.

Animation UK and Fitzrovia Post’s drinks reception

In the evening, we hosted a drinks reception at the Crystal Bar, which was filled with drinks, nibbles and networking. The event was hosted in collaboration with Fitzrovia Post, the premier audio post-production and voiceover recording facility based in Soho, London, known for their work on long form broadcast series, podcasts, audiobooks, games and ads, and their understanding, knowledge and passion for animation.

Later on, we put on our dancing shoes for the CMC’s annual party, enjoying the festivities with other conference goers and singing the night away with classical tunes at karaoke.

The CMC Party
Photo by Fudge Animation

On Thursday, we attended the Animation Assemble! panel and heard producers, creators and broadcasters discuss the challenges and opportunities to ‘power up’ our industry and create high-quality animated content for children. Produced by Animation UK’s Kate O’Connor and Blue Zoo’s Shannon Reeve, and executive produced by Studio Liddell’s Tracy Liddell, the session was moderated by the British Animation Awards’ Helen Brunsdon.

Speakers included Cloth Cat’s Jon Rennie, LEGO’s Courtney Arumugam, Jellyfish Animation & Originals’ Natalie Llewellyn, BBC Studios’ Edward Barnieh and Sky UK & ROI’s Lucy Murphy. Topics such as investment, IPs, strategic partnerships and the strength of UK talent were highlighted.

Animation Assemble! panel
Photo by iD8 Photography

We also attended the Inclusivity Now: Keeping it Real panel, where the importance of diverse representation was emphasised; the Power Up with AI panel, where we saw a live demonstration of how AI can be used in the creation of a pitch deck; and The CMC Debate: Public Service RIP? panel, where the changing landscape of public service TV was discussed. The last debate, in particular, was important for the sector and built on the discussion about investment at the earlier Question Time session. We look forward to continuing the debate started at CMC and plans to progress this dialogue are in place. Finally, Jaime Amor from Cosmic Kids Yoga wrapped up the conference in The Last Word.

We would like to thank the CMC team, the panellists and our fellow conference attendees for a wonderful few days. We look forward to seeing you all again in Sheffield next year!

For more information about CMC, visit their website here.