Scores of creative industry players, policy makers, and students, as well as representatives of top international animation educational institutions and companies, turned out today (June 20) to participate in the much-anticipated two-day animation conference and film festival, KingstOOn.
The conference and film festival, being held at the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus, is designed to serve as a catalyst to the various efforts to develop the animation industry, and attract investors.
Speaking at the opening session, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said Jamaica will be seeking to establish partnerships with Sheridan College’s Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Canada and Columbus College of Art and Design in the United States, for the development of a local animation industry.
He explained that KingstOOn aims to provide young Jamaicans with an opportunity to explore the animation industry as a quality professional development career. Targeted are youths enrolled in colleges that have visual arts programmes, as well as high schools.
“In addition, KingstOOn also wants to engage young people, who may be out of school, but willing to participate in relevant skills development progammes, especially in inner city areas,” he stated.
The Investment Minister said the event is providing a platform for discussing and taking action to move animation operations to a highly organised and well structured industry.
“This means opportunities for talent development, for all types of professional development, and opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. I’m convinced that KingstOOn will demonstrate the vast potential of our youth to participate in the global digital marketplace,” he stated.
Meanwhile, World Bank Director for Latin America, Ede Jorge Ijjazs Vasquez, noted that worldwide, animation is a $100 billion industry, and there is potential for some 5,000 jobs in the region.
“Many of the jobs that Jamaica can have in the future, particularly jobs for young people, have to be in areas that may not be seen as traditional. In the 21st century, these are industries with tremendous growth, industries that can be translated and transplanted everywhere around the world, through communications,” he stated.
Mr. Vasquez noted that countries such as India and Korea, which have provided outsourcing services for large studios such as Disney and Nickelodeon, can chart the way for Jamaica, as it goes forward in building its own animation industry.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Montreal-based Toon Boom Animation, Joan Vogelesang, told the gathering that with the industry taking off in parts of Africa and India, the goal is to create a Caribbean cluster.
She said the industry is financially rewarding. “If you go to a place like India where there was no industry 10 years ago, today the people in the animation industry earn more than electrical industry do – so it is also an industry which is well paying. The day of the starving artist is over,” she stated.
Organised by the Government in partnership with the World Bank, the Canadian High Commission, and JAMPRO, KingstOOn seeks to chart the way forward for the country to develop a world class animation industry that will allow it to take advantage of the associated economic and social benefits.
The conference and film exhibition aims to: raise awareness among key stakeholders, entrepreneurs and creators about the emerging opportunities in Jamaica; give visibility to the pool of talented young Jamaicans and regional artists; identify key challenges in the industry, and examine feasible solutions, which will allow Jamaica to be a part of the global network for outsourcing and creative content.
Among the sponsors are Flow, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), and the Gleaner group. Collaborating partners include the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), and the Edna Manley College.
Today’s opening day included a lively panel discussion with participation from State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, local television production representatives, and players in the international animation arena, such as Ron Saks of Columbus College of Art and Design.
The discussions highlighted and examined the contributions to be made by government, the education and private sectors in the development of the animation industry, as well as the plans that are being put in place to ensure that Jamaica benefits from the dynamic and growing global sector.
The forum also explored the issue of the digital divide; the business of animation as it relates to production, distribution, and exploitation of intellectual property; developing a career as an animator; and the challenges facing local animators and production companies.
CONTACT: ALPHEA SAUNDERS