Very tragic news out of England. As part of the country’s new austerity budget, last week the Arts Council England unceremoniously axed their country’s most prestigious animation program Animate Projects after twenty-one years of funding. The program will be shut down at the end of March.
Official statement from Animate Projects can be read on their site. Gary Thomas, co-director of Animate, released a statement saying that, “The Arts Council said it would not be ‘fair’ to fund us through Grants for the Arts, but before we applied they told us that this was our only option, and it’s how they’ve funded us since 2007. What makes us most angry is the attitude towards the artform, the artists and animators we work with, and our audiences.”
Since being founded as an Arts Council/Channel 4 venture, the program has produced 140 animated shorts including 11 British Animation Awards winners and five BAFTA nominees. It has had a massive impact on the British animation landscape by nurturing budding and established animation talent, encouraging experimentation and innovation within the art form, exposing the general public to contemporary animation, building bridges between animation and other visual arts, and generally helping to position England at the forefront of the independent animation scene. Filmmaker Mario Cavalli, who participated in the program, also lauded the program’s “broader economic benefits, stimulating commercial spin-off projects, job creation and exports.”