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Jamaica Joins Billion-Dollar Animation Industry With New Graduates of ‘Animate Jamaica’

Student Nathaniel Hay (R) receives his top honors

Student Nathaniel Hay (R) receives top honors

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica this week inched closer to positioning itself as a credible player in the global animation industry with the graduation of 45 newly minted animators under the “Animate Jamaica” project.

Jamaica’s Minister of Finance, Dr Peter Phillips was very upbeat as he delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony for the first cohort in the certificate program at the University of the West Indies in Kingston recently.

Making reference to the over US$220 billion global animation industry, which up to last year was enjoying an annual growth rate of approximately 9 percent, Phillips said, “We don’t need to get all of it, not even 10 percent of it, but we can get enough of it to seriously impact our current realities.”

Phillips described the graduation as “a genuinely pathbreaking venture which carries with it so many national hopes and dreams.”

The initiative explores the possibilities of positioning the country as one of the global hubs of animation, along with South Korea, India and the Philippines, and tapping into the significant creative talent of Jamaican youth and their interest in participating more actively in the global economy. Paradoxically, this pool of young talent is currently affected by a high rate of unemployment in the local economy.

The seeds of “Animate Jamaica” were planted in June 2013, when the government of Jamaica with the support of the World Bank Group and a suite of local and international private sector partners staged the Caribbean’s first full-fledged animation conference KingstOOn in Kingston.

Jamaica today only has a few full animation studios. However, international companies are increasingly looking at the  island as a choice for outsourcing animation production, with a number of new contracts flowing in over the last few months. Existing animation studios need a constant and larger supply of professional animators to fulfill those contracts and expand.

With South Korea, India and the Philippines now shifting their focus to the generation of local content for their burgeoning middle-classes, a widening skills gap has been created to support production lines in North America and Europe.

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