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TAFFI Announces New Board Members and Leadership

2020 Programming strategy and COVID-19 moves the 2020 TAAFI Animation Industry Conference online from November 6-8.

TORONTO -- The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) has announced the addition of three new board members and new festival leadership. Animation industry leaders Janice Walker, Karen Jackson, and Claudia Barrios will join the board. In addition, studio veteran John Rooney has been appointed executive director and will assume the role effective immediately. With these changes, TAAFI revealed their 2020 programming strategy in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic that has affected the film and television industry. The festival will continue to host its annual industry conference and animation festival with the inclusion of new monthly events.

Walker is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in the animation film and television industry. Currently, she is the studio producer at Yowza! Animation where she is working on several animated series including Green Eggs and Ham and Angry Birds. Prior to that she was the head of animation & producer for Brain Power Studios. She was the acting producer for the Netflix Original animated series Julius Jr and Luna Petunia. Before this she worked at DHX Media in Toronto.

A veteran of the TAAFI core team, Jackson oversaw the ambassador program for five years, working behind the scenes to bring events to life. She currently works for Tangent Animation as a production coordinator. Prior to this she worked as an artist at various companies such as Nelvana, Guru Studio, and Jam Filled Entertainment. She brings with her an immense knowledge of the 3D studio pipeline experience and an understanding of both production and artist needs that help cater to all sides of the industry.

Barrios is currently the marketing manager for Secret Location where she oversees the marketing strategy for the studio’s VR games and immersive experiences. With over 6 years in the entertainment industry, she has deep experience in developing marketing strategies for film, television, and games. She has worked on the global launch of various shows including the Netflix Original animated series, True and The Rainbow Kingdom for Guru Studio. Before joining Guru Studio, she held various roles at 9 Story Media Group across acquisitions, distribution, and digital media. Claudia graduated from the Kids Media program at Centennial College.

An industry veteran with a vast history within Canadian animation and kids’ television, Rooney served as director of programming at YTV and was instrumental in shaping the Corus Kids & Family brands. He created strategies for such brands as Bionix, Nickelodeon Canada, and ABC Spark Canada. Additionally, he served as director of programming for TELETOON where he was responsible for content strategy for TELETOON, TELETOON Retro, and launching Cartoon Network and Adult Swim in Canada. Currently, he serves as a consultant advising various clients on content strategy, programming, development, curation, research, and trending. His client list includes Mattel, Epic Story Media, WildBrain, Zodiak Media, Shaftesbury, Apartment 11, and marblemedia. 

The board announced departures this year, including co-founder and executive director, Ben McEvoy. Kathleen Bartlett and Barry Sanders will also be departing the board this year.

“Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, we remain dedicated to celebrating and showcasing some of the best animation content,” wrote Wornoff in a statement.

“I am incredibly proud of what we've accomplished with TAAFI within these first 10 years,” noted McEnvoy in a memo to the TAFFI team. “And we did it all thanks to our generous community who wanted to see everyone lift up and grow together here in Toronto as well as across Canada.”

“We've been fortunate to be partners with such a passionate audience, along with the support of so many engaged studios, businesses and the government, including the ability for all of us to work together to grow the industry, and more importantly, create fantastic animation.”

With these changes to the Board of Directors, TAAFI announced its 2020/2021 plans in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic: 

  • The TAAFI Animation Industry Conference will take place virtually on November 6-8, 2020
  • The TAAFI Festival is confirmed for February 2021
  • TAAFI Monthly Events - In addition to the two regularly hosted annual programs the organization will be running monthly events which will include panels, presentations, workshops, discussions with studios and artists/creators. To kick off their 2020 program, TAAFI will be organizing a special live streaming of a new animated Netflix Original followed by a panel discussion with key creatives behind the feature film. Details will be announced this month.

Source: The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International

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