For the first time since its inception six years ago, the Cartoon Forum a gathering supported by the Cartoon division of the European Commission’s Media I mandate, set up to help small European companies was uncertain of its funding. As of this year, the Cartoon Forum was required to apply for funding from the US$6.6 million the European Commission had set aside for European animation under a revamped Media program, entitled Media II. Though it received funding from Media II, the Cartoon Forum’s budget was cut from US$6.6 million to US$4.9 million.
Regardless of the uncertainty over funding early in the year, the 1996 Cartoon Forum, which took place over four days last September in Galway, Ireland, was a success. Over 340 producers, broadcasters, distributors and other potential investors discussed financing for 67 preselected projects that ranged from short series to television specials and feature films. At the end of the four days, approximately 40 projects found financing on a short- to mid-term basis. If financing comes through for each of these projects, the 1996 Cartoon Forum will be the most successful to date. A challenge facing organizers of next year’s Cartoon Forum, which takes place in Arles, France, is whether to include the growing number of European-based companies that are U.S.-owned.