Jointly held by ALICE Apulian partners and the Apulia Film Commission Foundation, the long-planned study visit in Bari, Puglia, was supposed to gather ALICE partners and animation professionals from the six territories in person on Friday 30 October. The new coronavirus restrictions required the meeting to be virtual but, although physical interaction was missed, all the project's partners attended the meeting, enthusiastically joined by some Belgian stakeholders, and everyone could see how ALICE had inspired significant achievements.
The day started with an insightful presentation about “Animation in Puglia”, made by a local freelance worker in animation. The presentation provided an overview of the animation sector in Italy, which is made up of 81 creative companies, for the most part specialized in TV series. In the Puglia region, public/private collaborations have been encouraged in order to fulfill the high potential for development of the sector. For the region, the ALICE project has been a launching pad for more cooperation within the industry, and the creation of a regional digital hub. The participants from other regions showed interest in getting updates on opportunities for cross-regional collaborations and learning more about the Italian tax credit.
A second presentation, by the Apulia Film Commission Foundation, followed. The Commission stressed the crucial role the ALICE project had played in accelerating the maturing of a local animation industry. Meetings with local stakeholders have proved very informative, and have guided strategic decisions in the area of animation: three new audiovisual funds have just been created, each providing funding for animated productions. The Apulia Film Fund, launched in July 2020 with a budget of € 5 million, has a program for “animated feature films with a minimum duration of 52 minutes [and] animation series projects with a minimum total duration of 24 months”. The Apulia Development Film Fund, created in 2019, and the Apulia Shorts & Digital Production fund, created in August 2020, also include specific programs for animation.
The study visit session ended with a virtual tour of the new Apulia Film House. Inaugurated in July 2020, it provides a cinema and new media space for children and adults as well as a networking venue for all the audiovisual professionals of the region.
This meeting showed that, through the ALICE project and with strong political will, a fragmented animation sector can rapidly come together to establish itself as an integrated industry, providing jobs and developing cultural influence. Moving forward, ALICE Apulian partners will focus on developing “Entrepreneurship & Training” within the frame of Working Group 2. Launching the analysis & research phase in November through a survey to professionals, educational and political institutions, the working group will use the results and peer comparison to identify good practices that will inspire new business and educational models, as well as draw up a list of recommended actions.