The British animation industry was pulled back from the brink by subsidies, but now it faces a far bigger and more insurmountable challenge: Brexit.
Steve Henderson over at Skwigly has done a fine job of detailing how Brexit will affect the British animation industry, but he does not go into what exactly is going to happen once the axe inevitably falls.
Will it be all doom and gloom?
Unsurprisingly the answer is yes, it very well may be. British animation was suffering for some time, and the demise of the industry was as clear as day. Production had dropped dramatically, and without the venerable BBC to commission programming, there was a very real chance the industry would cease to function as a domestic creator of popular programming.
After clamouring for tax breaks, the industry finally got them in 2012. Output subsequently soared and employment exploded. Good times were had by all, especially the many London-centred VFX houses, who quickly began churning out Hollywood blockbuster after blockbuster.
All the effort that went into acquiring those subsidies now appears to be for nought. The removal of the British industry from the wider European one will spell disaster for some very obvious reasons:
- No more European production funds
- Co-productions will become harder and more difficult to undertake
- The free movement of artists and animators will cease, or at least become immensely less inviting
- There are suitable replacement industries already up and running
The last reason is by far the most critical reason. The remainder of the industry remains within the EU and there are adequate replacements for creativity, capital, and labour. Ireland’s industry stands to gain enormously as a result, and despite proclamations to the contrary, that country’s government is anticipating opportunities to capitalise on companies looking to leave the UK. Given the strength of Ireland’s animation industry, the fact that they’re right next door, and the fact that it is an English-speaking country, British animators should be rather worried. Undertaking a move may feature in their futures very shortly.
There is a belief that the industry will whether the storm, and will remain competitive in the global industry. But such a fact is far from certain when economic instability threatens the entire British economy. It’s difficult to extract more money from an already cash-strapped government and just because you’re industry is hard up doesn’t guarantee any favours.
It may not be the end of the road for British animation, but thanks to Brexit it isn’t exactly clear skies ahead either.