Trade bodies' collaboration is boost to north's animation studios

Nicola Lyons of NI Screen with Animation Ireland chief executive Ronan McCabe and Kate O'Connor from Animation UK, who have signed an agreement allowing Northern Ireland studios to be members of Animation Ireland. Picture: Darren Kidd/PressEye

ANIMATION studios in Northern Ireland are now able to participate with key trade associations both in Ireland and Britain.

It comes after Animation Ireland, Animation UK and NI Screen agreed a deal that will open membership to studios based in the north.

It is 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 such as Puffin Rock, which is co-produced by Derry-based Dog Ears and Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon

It comes as the animation sector continues to see explosive growth on both sides of the border, with huge increases in productions, staff numbers and funding for animated content.

The animation sector directly employs more than 2,000 people, a number that is rapidly growing year on year. Animation Ireland now has 35 member studios, up from 25 in 2018 and just 14 in 2015.

Animation Ireland chief executive Ronan McCabe said: “This is a major milestone for the sector on both sides of the border.

“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: “Our sector known for its creative excellence, humour, iconic characters and innovation, and we're 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 award-winning animation studio Sixteen South said: “Animation really is a global industry without borders. We have co-produced with wonderful partners in many countries across the world and to have had this agreement brokered by NI 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.”

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.

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