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WIA World Summit Wraps Successful 8th Edition

Day-long symposium at the 2024 Annecy Festival tackled emerging industry innovations, the power of community in the evolving animation landscape, and how to support gender equity in animation.

The eighth annual WIA World Summit took place on Monday, June 10 at the 2024 Annecy Festival in France, tackling the theme “Stronger Together: The Equitable Future of Animation.” The day-long symposium of panels and focused conversations featured key thought leaders, filmmakers and executives from around the world, who discussed emerging industry innovations and the power of community in the evolving animation landscape and how the support gender equity in animation.

The 300+ seat room was at capacity throughout all four sessions of the day, with hundreds of additional people across different countries watching via live stream. The crowd was made up of people of all genders, races and nationalities who had a genuine interest in the power of inclusive stories in animation. The morning and afternoon sessions can be viewed on the WIA website.

WIA President Marge Dean kicked off the day’s events with a heartfelt letter to the animation community addressing the current animation situation while providing hope.

“I don’t believe it’s the end of the animation industry. I think the industry is evolving,” Dean said. “There are still children who want to be entertained and parents who need them to be entertained. Researchers have found that the number-one form of entertainment for Gen Z — the treasured demographic of 18-34 year-olds — is animation. Anime is exploding in popularity to the point where it overshadows the metrics of all the other forms of entertainment and is leading the way for an explosion of adult, genre animation like Invincible, Arcane, Scavenger’s Reign and Blue Eye-Samurai.”

A common theme for the day was evolving technology, including AI.

“Innovation is in our DNA,” Janet Lewin, senior vice president of Lucasfilm Visual Effects and general manager of Industrial Light & Magic, said during the panel, “The Creative Impact of the Technology Revolution.”

The panel addressed new technologies and how ILM addresses those innovations. “We’re not afraid of this new revolution,” Lewin added. “Technology is really an enabler, especially for women, because the playing field is more level, and [it can] nurture creative storytellers.”

Others panelists agreed that — like all burgeoning technologies — technological advances are a tool to help artists, but there must be appropriate guidelines to protect creatives.

Panelists and attendees also connected over the importance of authentic representation in animation both on and behind the screen.

The critical importance of genuine depictions in animation was made even more clear, said guest speaker Agnes Soyode-Johnson, CEO of Limitless Studios, when she started having children and became immersed in children’s animation.

“I saw there really wasn’t much [animation] that spoke to [my son] as a Black child, as a black African child living in Africa with an African name,” Soyode-Johnson said during her panel entitled “What Now?: Global Opportunities in Animation.”

“Where’s the content that he can watch and see himself in? Representation for kids is just as important as representation for adults. Just like we want to see ourselves in the content we consume, so do kids as well.”

During the event, WIA announced that applications for the WIA Membership Fund have officially opened. WIA launched the Membership Fund in 2023, raising more than $50,000 to support 1,000 community members with a 12-month WIA Creator Level Membership at no cost. This fund provides opportunities for aspiring creators who may face financial barriers. It’s a direct investment in their dreams, allowing them to access necessary resources and support.

Source: Women In Animation