Dear friends of WIA,
We are gearing up for our fifth annual WIA World Summit at the Annecy International Animation Festival. Our first three summits were a trilogy of themes: Unconscious Bias, Diversity & Inclusion and Belonging. The 2020 World Summit, like the year itself, detoured a bit from our planned path, calling for a quick pivot to respond to the pandemic and to the on-going racial justice movement. 2021 sees us continuing those conversations and a call to learn and grow from the previous summits by examining “The Business Case for Diversity.”
We invited Triggerfish Studios and The Triggerfish Foundation to co-host the 2021 Summit with us because Triggerfish makes great content but is also committed to developing and promoting African animation talent primarily through mentorship. Theirs is a success story that we believe is important to amplify, and in our drive to push the intersectionality of the work WIA does, we are looking for other groups to partner and collaborate with so that our combined efforts can better serve our industry.
The World Summit keynote address by Dr. Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin is inspiring and insightful. She recognizes and calls out the special opportunity that animation, in all its forms, has in impacting the world and promoting change. The very essence of our medium, where we have to imagine every aspect of it and build it from scratch, allows us to represent worlds the way we want them to be. That’s a powerful opportunity. And she is a powerful speaker.
Another important discussion covered in the World Summit is about alternative paths to a career in animation. Or, as viewed from the other side of the table, it’s about alternative sources of new diverse talent. The assumed path to working in animation is through collegiate animation programs, but not everyone is able to afford the tuition. The panel discusses successful alternative programs that have been established around the world to develop talent outside of the art school system.
We are also lucky to have Marvel Studios’ Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso join us for a one-on-one conversation with WIA Secretary Julie Ann Crommett about her successes and lessons learned over the years. Two bold Latinas share an inspiring perspective about working in the entertainment industry, its challenges, and opportunities. There is even a little musical interlude.
The WIA World Summit will initially be exclusively available to attendees of the Annecy Animation Festival & MIFA and to WIA members through our website. The panels go live on June 14th and run through June 19th.
After June 20th, the WIA World Summit will be available to the general public through our website. As always, please let us know if you have any difficulty connecting.
While planning our biggest Summit yet has kept us busy over the last four months, WIA leadership has also spent a lot of time and energy soul searching about who we are and who we represent. We’ve gained important perspectives from new board members, chapter leadership, and general members. We have looked at our constituency and our organizational identity.
We’ve come to really understand that the binary paradigm of gender is at the foundation of our social structures. This paradigm is at the core of sexism and is the springboard for the horrible impact such ideology has on all humans. There can be no true gender parity or authentic inclusion or embracing of diversity or effective feminism without dismantling the assumption that there are only two genders. At the heart of this all, we believe a challenge to the binary paradigm is a profoundly revolutionary act.
We are reviewing all aspects of our organization from our mission statement, to our website, to our call to action (50/50 by 2025) and even to our name with this perspective in mind. At this time, we don’t know yet what it all will mean but we think it’s critical that we listen, learn, discuss and figure out how this impacts the work we are doing and the changes that we want to see happen.
But one statement we know that we can make to define our organization with confidence and integrity is this:
WIA is a welcoming, supportive and open community for people of underrepresented gender identities – which includes but is not limited to all women, nonbinary and transgender individuals – as well as their allies across the animation industry.
We feel strongly that it is also important to recognize the courage of the people who are the pioneers in this movement. We know that challenging such a foundational concept draws out a most vile venom and life-threatening reality, yet there are thousands and thousands of people who have stood up and insisted on being their true selves against huge odds. Their bravery encourages us and will have a longtime impact in making all our lives fuller and more authentic.
We are still in the midst of this organizational discourse so your input would be appreciated. If this is a new concept for you, there are a lot of resources out there to learn more, and here are some suggestions:
- Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
I encourage you to engage in this important conversation. It will change the way you see the world and maybe how you see yourself.