Canada’s Youth Media Alliance (YMA) and the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) have teamed up to establish a fund to support emerging LGBTQ+ and underrepresented talent in the animation industry.
Created to honor Canadian animation industry vet John Rooney (pictured)—who died in December—The John Rooney Creator Fund will build on his work advocating for equity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ talent in animation and kids media.
In his time working with TAAFI and YMA, Rooney did a lot to try and improve Canada’s kids industry, and the organizations want to commemorate his legacy, says YMA exec director Chantal Bowen.
At press time, the orgs didn’t have any details to share on how much financing the fund would provide, when it would start distributing this support, and what the process would be for selecting recipients. But more information should be available in the next few weeks, says Bowen.
Rooney held various positions during his career in kids television, including director of programming for Corus Entertainment’s kids and family division, where he oversaw programming and content acquisitions for YTV, Nickelodeon Canada and ABC Spark.
He went on to become director of programming for kids channel Teletoon from 2011 to 2014, where he managed content acquisitions and development for its programming blocks. And from 2014 until his death in December, he worked as an independent media consultant with prodcos such as Shaftesbury, Apartment 11, WildBrain, Epic Story Media and Mattel.
In 2018, Rooney was also executive director of TAAFI, a non-profit organization focused on expanding Toronto’s animation community. He was responsible for executing all of its events, including an annual conference and several networking opportunities.