Competitive Edge Maura Kelly
"There are a lot of exciting companies in Ireland quietly innovating and they fly under the radar screen," said Michael Pryce, Director at National Australia Bank after attending the Business of Animation panel in Manhattan recently.
Michael wasn't the only one surprised to learn that millions of kids in the U.S. watch rich 2D and 3D animation produced by Irish companies on a daily basis. Participant, Cathal Gaffney, CEO of Brown Bag Films, backed up the fact and explained how his company ended up producing "Doc McStuffins" for Disney. The hit show is now the number one rated show in the U.S. for pre-school children. Other recognizable Irish-made programs for U.S. broadcasters include: "Olivia," "Amazing World of Gumball," "Skunk Fu" and "Horrible Histories."
Throughout the evening , which was sponsored by the Irish International Business Network, the panelists highlighted the economic growth of Irish animation sector, and screened clips of projects in development. Collectively they demonstrated why they were nominated for every major worldwide award, such as, Oscars, BAFTAs and International Emmys.
"The evening was a unique combination of technology meets entertainment and commerce meets arts," stated Peter Ryan, Irish Deputy Consul General, who, along with Consul General of Ireland in New York, Noel Kilkenny, greeted the guests and business leaders at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue.
"I think there was a definite wow factor, said Noel Kilkenny.
"Many of the Irish entertainment companies are not well known in Ireland or in Irish America, so the global success of these indigenous animation companies is news tonight for many."
According to Andrew Kavanagh, CEO of Kavaleer Productions, this is because most of the work they create is for export.
"We sell at the big entertainment marketplaces like Cannes, France and South by Southwest in Austin and we partner with countries who are big animation producers like the U.S., Canada, and France. That would certainly explain why the sector continued to grow despite Ireland's economics woes.
According to Paul Young, CEO, Cartoon Saloon, "There is no unique Irish style of animation but we are well regarded for our ability to tell a story and for visual art."
Siobhan Ní Ghadhra, COO of Telegael, echoed the sentiment and stressed that Irish people are natural born collaborators because they have to be.
"We know that to get these entertainment projects produced we need to collaborate with companies for financing. Irish tax incentives like Section 481 are also a major factor. This scheme offers generous tax relief to producers investing in Irish-made films and television," she explained.
Barry O'Neill, CEO of Story Toys, reviewed the gaming and app sector in Ireland and stressed that more collaboration between gaming and animation could increase Ireland's competitive position.
When asked about YouTube and other platforms eroding the TV viewing space, Cathal Gaffney responded positively: "There will be more changes in TV over the next five years than in the past 50 years. People will be watching on all size screens and that is a great opportunity for our homegrown content companies.
Globally, animation is a 250 billion dollar industry and Irish companies employ thousands of people in the creative economy in Ireland.
According to the panel at the consulate event there is plenty of room for growth and they are only getting stronger.
Go to Animation Ireland for more information http://www.animationireland.com and for the IIBN go to http://www.iibn.com
Connect with Maura Kelly on Twitter @maurakellymedia.