Production and distribution vet Mounia Aram (pictured right) and media consultant Patience Priso (pictured left) have jointly created African Creative Talents (ACT). The non-profit org will address barriers to training, and provide tools and opportunities for women in Africa’s animation and gaming industries by launching schools and training programs.
Based in Paris, Aram will serve as president of ACT, with Priso supporting as VP. The organization is aiming to launch one dedicated animation and gaming school every year in a French-speaking African country to train young talent. (There are 21 French-speaking countries in Africa, plus five more where French is not the official language but is widely used: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Mauritius.)
“The talent is there, but they lack training,” says Aram. “Most animators are self-taught using free software on the internet, and the quality is not very professional. This is why we need to help local talent by opening schools that will give them access to professional software.”
The first school is expected to open next January in Casablanca, Morocco, offering 40 placements in a three-year course, and granting roughly 20 scholarships. Schools will be built locally from the ground up.
ACT’s ultimate goal, according to Aram, is to help more than 1,000 people become industry professionals so they can join studios or create their own production companies, thus bolstering creative and economic bridges between African countries.
To support the initiative, ACT is partnering with a yet-to-be-announced school in France that specializes in 3D animation and gaming. The org will work with this school to select and train local teachers in Africa.
While curriculum details are scant thus far, the academy will provide master classes, hackathons, mentorships, pan-African internships and coaching sessions featuring local and international industry professionals. According to Aram, some animation software and gaming companies have already come on board as partners, and sponsorship discussions are in the works with others, but she can’t reveal any names yet. Applications will be opening soon.
To help get its first school up and running, ACT will launch a crowdfunding campaign later this month on French arts and culture platform Proarti, with the goal of raising US$60,000 (€50,000). The org is also actively working with its board members to raise money through private and public funds.
A former VIZ Media and Toei exec, Aram has nearly 20 years of experience in animation production and distribution. She is currently heading up her own kids and family distribution outfit, Mounia Aram Company (The Makerbolts, The Adventures of Kam Kam), which predominantly distributes and produces African animation content around the world.
Meanwhile, Priso has served as a media consultant and teacher in cultural and creative industries for two decades. She’s currently the director of studies at French schools Sup de Prod and Paris School of Content.