At a time when rising tuition costs have reached alarming levels in the U.S., Frances’s renowned art academy Ecole Emile Cohl is creating a non-profit outpost in downtown Los Angeles, Emile Cohl Art Academy, which will provide 40 enrollees with tuition-free education equivalent to a master’s degree.

Regarding the reasoning behind this major move from the French institution, Guillaume Champavere, co-founder and president at Emile Cohl Art Academy, told Cartoon Brew that the decision is an extension of Philippe Rivière’s philanthropic efforts. Rivière, who founded the Ecole Emile Cohl 35 years ago in Lyon, France is about to retire and pass on the reins of the school to his son Antoine Rivière.

“[Philippe Rivière] is basically adding to his legacy by establishing an international art program that allows his super powerful curriculum to reach students who may have never had the opportunity to attend an art academy with such an esteemed background,” said Champavere. “The program is a way to give back, combined with the opportunity to extend France’s stellar art school reputation directly into the entertainment capital of the world.”

Additionally, Champavere also believes that Emile Cohl’s presence in the U.S. will indirectly help the students in France, because the L.A.-based campus will help raise the awareness and reputation of the school among American recruiters. When French students apply for jobs in American studios they will have the Emile Cohl stamp of approval with a frame of reference on American soil.

Emile Cohl Art Academy is already accepting applications and plans to enroll its first 40 students in the fall of 2020. The process to be admitted, however, is a long one that will require interested applicants to go through multiple vetting processes.

Once the open application closes in December, the instructors in France will begin the review process to select the top 500 applicants. Then, they will be brought in for a logic test and an extensive skill assessment. Out of that group, 100 finalists will be selected and then their samples will be sent to professionals not associated with the school who will give feedback to select the 40 that will be enrolled.

The program the school will provide in the U.S. will nearly mirror that in France, but since the markets in each country are slightly different, as Champavere points out, the American curriculum will replace some illustration courses with others focused on matte painting and vfx, an area for which there is a larger market stateside.

Once they complete the three-year program, students in the U.S will have the equivalent of the master’s degree that takes French students five years to attain. The school is not accredited, but exempted, which is specific to international schools in California. However, their degree is considered official in France, should they want to work there.

Being a non-profit, Emile Cohl Art Academy will be able to provide a tuition-free experience to its 40 students thanks to funds that are 50% from donations and 50% from the application fee.

According to Champavere, the curriculum, which will be taught by local instructors connected to the entertainment industry, will deal with basic art skills first before placing students in front of a computer. Through conversations with recruiters, he’s learned that a major problem studios and companies have with new hires is their lack of ability to perform basic artistic tasks, which in turns means they have to be retrained, which adds to studio’s costs.

Another major complaint, is the lack of diversity among the people that apply for jobs, specifically diversity in terms of creative backgrounds and artistic style. This is where Champavere believes Emile Cohl Art Academy being in Los Angeles can make a difference, as it will provide access to higher education to people from underrepresented backgrounds, thereby creating a pipeline of diverse artists for employers.

“Diversity empowers creativity,” said Champavere. “We are not only targeting only white, 25-year-old, American males, we are looking for the whole planet to target. Studios aren’t looking for diversity because it looks good on paper; they are looking for diversity because the money is asking for it.”

Anyone is welcome to apply regardless of previous education as long as they are 18-years-old and can legally remain in the U.S. for the length of the program. The application fee is $199.

For more details and to apply visit Cohl.art.

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