While this week’s local elections in the UK have led to increased speculation about the future of Ireland’s borders, the region’s animation industry has come together to increase opportunities for creativity and collaboration.
Animation Ireland, Animation UK and Northern Ireland Screen have today agreed a deal that will open membership to studios based in Northern Ireland. This means that studios will be able to be members of both Animation Ireland and Animation UK, the trade associations representing studios in Ireland and the UK respectively.
The agreement comes amid a surge in the growth of animation on both sides of the Irish border, huge increases in productions, staffing and funding for the animated industry which currently employs more than 2,000 people. Animation Ireland now has 35 member studios, up from 25 in 2018 and just 14 in 2015.
Under the deal, Northern Ireland studios will participate with Animation Ireland and Animation UK at major international animation, film and TV events and conferences to jointly promote the island of Ireland and the UK as well as issues such as attracting new talent into the sector, co-production opportunities and wider international promotion.
Northern Ireland studios will have access to Animation Ireland training events, with Northern Ireland Screen supporting events and training.
Announcing the agreement, the parties called it “a major step forward in collaboration between studios in the two jurisdictions, who have been increasingly linked in recent years through joint work on major global productions.”
Commenting on the announcement, Animation Ireland Chief Executive Ronan McCabe said; ‘’This is a major milestone for the Irish animation sector on both sides of the border. There has always been a great spirit of collaboration in the animation sector and that is what this announcement is all about. By working together, we can all help ensure the island of Ireland continues to grow its reputation as a leading international hub for animation production. There are already a huge number of linkages between us in terms of animation, film and TV production so it makes perfect sense to be more formally linked.’’
Kate O’Connor, Executive Chair of Animation UK, said; ‘’Animation UK represents the UK sector known for its creative excellence, humour, iconic characters and innovation. We are delighted to welcome on board the brilliant animation companies in Northern Ireland. This exciting development and unique partnership between Animation UK, Animation Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen will allow us to deepen our existing relationships.’’
Colin Williams, Founder and Creative Director of Northern Ireland animation studio Sixteen South said; “We’re really delighted to become members of Animation UK and Animation Ireland. Animation really is a global industry without borders. We at Sixteen South have co-produced with wonderful partners in many countries across the world and to have had this agreement brokered by Northern Ireland Screen for us as a Northern Irish studio to be recognised by and to have membership of both the UK and Irish Animation bodies is wonderful and really fitting. We’re a mix of cultures in Northern Ireland and this is a great fit for us.”