As ALICE’s first semester draws to a close, the project has completed the first round of stakeholders’ meetings held in each partner territory. The meetings began in Liege, Wallonia, in December and closed in Bari, Puglia region, on Friday, 31 January 2020. Initiated in September 2019, ALICE aims to foster cooperation within the sector at the European level to support the development of a competitive European animation industry. 

For the Puglia region, this first stakeholders’ meeting was the opportunity to reaffirm the importance of co-producing with Europe for the future of local animation businesses, and to engage with SMEs and freelance workers about the best strategy to position the regional industry within the European market. With the support of the Apulia Film Commission Foundation team members as moderators, discussions focused on two key needs: creating a helpful and well-connected network and developing first-class training programs for professionals.   

The participants all agreed that the lack of connection between animation companies and independent workers represented a major obstacle to development and resulted in lost opportunities.  They welcomed the proposal from the region to work on identifying the sector’s players and to make a “who’s who” publication available to enable people to connect over projects and boost individual careers. It was pointed out that the Apulia Film House, which is soon to be inaugurated, could serve as an animation sector hub, dedicated to industry networking meetings, workshops and events. 

Concerning training, the stakeholders recognized that creating specialized programs of excellence in animation would benefit local companies and independent workers and help the region distinguish itself at a European level. Discussions focused on the development of first-class training centers giving access to advanced technologies and experts in order to foster the development of unique contents attracting international attention.   

This first meeting showed the stakeholders’ responsiveness to ALICE’s project and their need for collaborative tools. It also revealed the common will to turn to specialisation to enhance the region’s competitiveness at an international level. Working closely with ALICE’s partners from Wallonia, Catalonia, the Hauts-de-France region, the Rzeszow region in Poland, and the Slovak Republic will allow the Puglia region to build a strategy for local SMEs that aligns with its European partners’ interest, and thus contribute to the larger development of the European animation industry.