Women in Animation President Warns of Rough Time Ahead While Introducing New Member Resources

Addressing the “tough” animation industry climate, the nonprofit organization Women in Animation is launching a series of programs dubbed “Animating Resilience: Surviving and Thriving in an Uncertain Industry,” which will include adaptation and success strategies as well as those aimed at well being. WIA is also expanding its online career resource center, including new information for unemployed members, educational videos, and a recruiter directory.

In a letter sent to members on Monday, WIA president Marge Dean noted that she has heard estimates that suggest that as much as 30 percent of the Los Angeles animation workforce is unemployed. “We saw drastic cuts in projects from all the major streamers long before the writers and actors went on strike,” she wrote. “Productions were abruptly ended, even when they were nearly or completely finished. Whole animation divisions were eradicated.” This past year Netflix Animation, for instance, experienced layoffs, reorganized its management and canceled projects including Meghan Markle’s Pearl.

Dean acknowledged that animation has had its ups and downs, but the impact of streamers and other newer players in the business made the most recent high “tumultuous” as it has changed the way the business runs. “The explosion of production was so disproportionately large that there was no way that it wouldn’t crash,” she added. “That is what we’ve been experiencing: a course correction.”

She warned that simultaneously, there’s been an “attack at all levels of government” on diversity, equity, and inclusion work. “We must be diligent in protecting these efforts and continue to require all employers to value DEI as central to our collective success,” she wrote, adding that organizations such as WIA and Black N’ Animated are all the more necessary. “Groups like ours are more important than ever: we continue to beat the drum, reminding everyone that a diverse and inclusive workforce benefits everyone and is key to the survival of creativity and storytelling.”

Dean expressed concern that the “biggest casualties” could be the newest members of the community, as well as older veterans “who have justifiably worked their way to a higher salary range, and those returning to the workforce (primarily mothers and caregivers).”

She urged support for working people “as they stand up for fair participation in the benefits of the work that they do. This is directly connected to the struggles for equity across identities — pay equity and job access sit at the heart of the labor movement.” Dean added: “we probably have not hit bottom yet, but soon we’ll see more shows being greenlit, more jobs opening up and a healthier work environment. It will probably never be what it was like just before the pandemic, and the coming months are going to be rough. When the agreements are settled, and the actors and writers return to work, it will take some time to get production rolling again. We all have to find ways to survive until we turn the corner.”

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