Is animation a viable career path for young Jamaicans?

Undoubtedly, the Caribbean possesses some of the most talented people in the world. These talents however, are not simply limited to the performing arts as many would believe. Many Caribbeannationals are world class scientists, technologists,business people, medical experts, etc.

The area of technology is particularly intriguing due to its rapid expansionin the Caribbean. A few years ago for example, Herbert (Haz) Samuel launched Welectricity, a ground-breaking social media tool that helps households reduce their electrical energy consumption. Since then, thousands of people worldwide have signed up as users of the tool. Last year, Samuel again released an organ and blood donation mobile app. This is the kind of expertise and ingenuity that the Caribbean possesses. It therefore came as no surprise when the significant scope for animation outsourcing was identified in Jamaica.

Navito- Animation-Jamaica 1Image Credit:  Cabbie Chronicles, apopular animation series produced in Jamaica

Beaming with talented, tech-savvy youngsters, Jamaica is an undoubtedly hub for innovation. Furthermore, Jamaicans have always excelled at the visual arts. As testament, over the past four years, over 2,500 Jamaican students received 1 or 2 grades for Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Visual Arts Examination. Bringing together these two areas brings fort the potential to turn these talents into a meaningful and professional career, animation.

Animation in Jamaica

Jamaica is currently home to three “pure play” animation studios; nevertheless, the animation industry in Jamaica has the potential to create thousands of jobs. This will include world-class animators, storywriters, voiceover actors, producers, art directors, etc. However, how does Jamaica ensure that a true career in animation is well within the grasp ofsuch individuals?

Navito- Animation-Jamaica 2Image Credit: Yoyogi, a manga lecturer and artist, shows students from the University of Technology aspects of his art during a workshop at the school

Growing The Industry

While the talent exists, the challenge is turning this enormous, untapped potential into a fully-fledged, international industry. Recently, a two-day animation film festival and conference was held in Kingston, Jamaica. The conference brought together international industry leaders, local animation companies as well as government and World Bank officials. The aim was to develop programs to act as catalysts for Jamaica’s animation industry and position the country as the next animation hub. Of course, through partnerships with educational institutions and the private sector, Jamaica can provide the opportunitiesto grow the creative industry.

Navito- Animation-Jamaica 3                        Image Credit: Policy makers and stakeholders

We know too well that the youth are often difficult to engage unlessthey are interested in whatever is being presented to them. While there are many Jamaicans already enthusiastic about animation, a public campaign centered around exploring animation as a quality professional development career as well as discovering current opportunities in the global animation industry, and interacting with professionals and entrepreneurs currently operating in the animation industry in Jamaica and abroad will be pivotal in engaging more young people. Furthermore, various competitions are being facilitated by art agencies and creative studios in order to identify potential animators.

Navito- Animation-Jamaica 4

Credit: – Dutty-Bwoy, another popular Jamaican animation series

Developing an ICT hub has been long touted in Jamaica. It is however, sectors such as animation that will be the driverstowards such development. In a few years, Jamaica could become a standard outsourcing location for world class animation. This can only be achieved with the proper stimulus form the government as well as private stakeholders in ensuring the proper development of the sector including visual arts and technology as a whole.

By: Norvan Martin



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