CARTOON, the Driving Force of European Animation

CARTOON was created at the end of 1987 by the MEDIA Programme which began its pilot phase under the impetus of Mrs Holde Lhoest (Head of the MEDIA Programme) and of Mr Henry Ingberg (General Director of the Ministry of the “Communauté Française de Belgique”).

Organised by the two coordinators of CARTOON, general secretary Marc Vandeweyer and director Corinne Jenart, a Constituant General Assembly was held on 16 and 17 February 1988 at the Brussels Centre de Congrès with 43 animation professionals from the 11 member states of what was still called the “European Community” at the time.

1990, Lanzarote. Participants arriving to the 1st Cartoon Forum

An Action Plan for European Animation

After numerous visits to studios and meetings with producers from the four corners of Europe, the two CARTOON coordinators, Marc Vandeweyer and Corine Jenart, put forward an action plan supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union with the aim of relaunching the animated film industry in Europe. 
It is essential to reiterate that all CARTOON’s initiatives have developed through continuous dialogue with those in the industry: some initiatives have indeed been suggested by professionals and put in place by the permanent office in Brussels with the sole aim of responding to the economic and structural needs of the sector, and in order to revitalise it.

Thanks to the MEDIA Programme of the European Union, this action plan has developed in several areas:

1. TRAINING

  • with support for around a hundred professional internships in companies which have enabled 1 266 people to perfect their knowledge in animation studios in 11 European countries and which have led to a hiring rate of 80 %.
  • with the organisation of training seminars for professionals and given by experienced professionals, with the aim of keeping up as closely as possible with developments in the animation industry. So far CARTOON has organised more than 60 Cartoon Masters, bringing together more than 4 000 professionals.

2. FINANCING

  • with pre-production aid for 252 projects, exceeding 5.5 million euros of aid from the MEDIA Programme (1988-1995). Since 1996, this aid has been given directly by the European Commission.
  • with the creation in 1990 of the Cartoon Forum designed to speed up financial arrangements and increase the number of cross-border co-productions of TV series. To date, more than 500 projects have been set up for a total budget of 2 billion euros. More than 850 professionals take part each year in Toulouse.
  • with the creation of Cartoon Movie in 1999, on the same principles as the Cartoon Forum, but for animation films for the cinema. So far 215 films have been financed for a total budget of 1.5 billion euros. More than 700 professionals take part each year in Lyon, France.

3. PRODUCTION

  • with aid for European studio groupings. 14 groupings, bringing together 38 studios from 10 European countries, succeeded in keeping labour in Europe and modernising the industry. Together they have produced 82 animated series!
  • with an ambitous support plan for modernising production tools, called Computer Cartoon, which has led to the development of four software programmes which are widely used in studios, as almost 1 000 licences had been bought by the end of the 1990s. This action was decisive in the technological evolution of animation.

1993, Inverness. Royal visit of Prince Edward.

A Structural Effect

The main achievement of CARTOON is to have succeeded in structuring a sector which at the time was extremely disparate and fragmented, and facing intense competition from the Japanese and the Americans.

It is clear that, by means of complementary and coherent initiatives managed by CARTOON, European animation is in a far better position than it was twenty years ago. European studios have come to know each other, to meet and to co-operate together. A climate of mutual trust has developed which is manifest to all. It is equally clear that there are more and more series and feature films produced in Europe and that there are more cross-border cooperative ventures and co-productions.

A Genuine Cultural Industry

Alongside these actions, CARTOON has also developed a highly efficient database on European animation and would like to establish a bridge between creation (of auteur shorts) and the industry with the essential link of the Cartoon d’Or. It is the only European prize for animated shorts, it rewards the “best of the best”, since the nominees are chosen from a selection of award-winning films from our partner festivals. 

There have been great names such as Nick Park (winner in 1991 and 1994), Sylvain Chomet, Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Mark Baker, Michael Dudok De Wit, Joanna Quinn and Benjamin Renner.

Today, 28 years later, thanks to the wonderful support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union, European Animation has taken its place in the international market. It has gone from a handicraft to a cultural industry, rich with diverse cultures and at the spearhead of the most advanced technologies.