City Agencies Unveil “Made In NY Animation Project” At The Harlem NeON

January 11, 2018

Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin, Probation Commissioner Ana M. Bermúdez, and The Animation Project (TAP) Founder Brian Austin joined animation industry professionals at the Harlem Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeONSM) today to unveil the City’s Made in NY Animation Project. A groundbreaking initiative that will reach 1,800 young New Yorkers in all five boroughs during the coming year, the Made in NY Animation Project offers participants the opportunity to engage in storytelling, gain technical skills in 3D computer animation, and qualify for paid internships in this burgeoning field. Today’s event included a showcase of the first cohort’s completed animation projects, as well as a VR and computer demonstration in the Animation Lab at the Harlem NeON.

Also at today’s event, the newly-formed Animation Industry Council – an advisory group of professionals from leading greater New York-based animation studios, video game publishers, post-production houses, television networks and advertising agencies – was announced. The members of this council will share their expertise and career advice with the program’s participants, and provide information regarding job opportunities in the animation field.

“We’re the most creative city in the world,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “Making sure our young people have access to 21st Century animation tools helps build bright futures for our next generation of artists and keep our city the global capital of culture.”

“We are proud to present the Made in NY Animation Project, which will expose young New Yorkers to the many possibilities that digital animation holds – for both creative expression and future career paths,” said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “This innovative program will not only provide training for popular animation techniques, opening doors to well-paying jobs, but will also create opportunities for paid internships. I thank DOP and TAP for their partnership and look forward to the exciting work these young New Yorkers will create.”

“As part of our continued commitment to strengthening communities and changing lives, we are proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in creating the Made in NY Animation Project,” said Probation Commissioner Ana M. Bermúdez. “Operating at Neighborhood Opportunity Network locations (NeONs) and in nearby schools across the five boroughs, this first of its kind digital animation training initiative will serve 1,800 young New Yorkers who might not otherwise have access to this kind of opportunity. In addition to imparting 21st-century job skills, this initiative will provide its young these young participants an alternative medium for the self-expression that is so critical to their personal growth.”

Digital animation is a rapidly-growing sector of the entertainment industry, sought after for everything from advertising to video games, and from film and television to fields like healthcare and architecture. New York City is a leading urban area when it comes to employing multimedia artists and animators, second only to Los Angeles. The field is projected to add 10,000 well-paying jobs to the city’s economy by 2024, fueled by increased demand for graphics and visual effects in video games, film, television and mobile devices.

With this in mind, the Made in NY Animation Project aims to create learning opportunities in digital animation for at-risk and underserved youth across the city, opening doors to careers in sought-after areas of the entertainment industry. The initiative will provide 3D digital animation classes at NeON locations throughout the five boroughs, as well as at participating public schools within the NeON neighborhoods. Lab sessions will be led by a professional digital animator and a creative arts therapist. Participants in the program will receive hands-on instruction with digital animation techniques, including training in Autodesk, the leading 3D animation software manufacturer used by animators and design firms. Throughout the course of the program, participants will work as a team to create original, computer-animated videos, while developing the social, emotional and career skills necessary for success.

“The TAP family is looking forward to meeting so many more creative young New Yorkers through this new initiative. Each animation group we run brings us into contact with so much un-tapped creative potential,” said Brian Austin, Founder and Executive Director of The Animation Project. “Time and again, we’ve seen that when young people get the chance to learn new technical skills to tell their stories, they flourish. Get ready NYC for a new generation of talented professionals! We are grateful to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the NYC Department of Probation for making this possible.”

This past summer, The Made in NY Animation Project rolled out lab groups at NeONs in each of the five boroughs. The participating NeONs are offering the program at no cost in 12-week cycles throughout the year. The Made in NY Animation Project will expand into ten middle and high schools in these neighborhoods with courses offered during the school day.

Upon successful completion of the Made in NY Animation Project at NeON locations or in participating schools, qualified participants have the opportunity to become paid interns for the program, providing training support to new cohorts while continuing to learn more advanced animation techniques. Students that are accepted into this internship have the option to test for Autodesk professional certification, allowing them to pursue entry-level work opportunities in the field.

The Made in NY Animation Project is the latest in a series of workforce initiatives aimed at increasing access to careers in the media and entertainment fields for all New Yorkers. These include the Made in NY Writers Room, a fellowship program for TV writers from diverse backgrounds; the Theatrical Workforce Development Program, a three-year initiative to educate and train young adults in technical theater positions, presented in partnership with Roundabout Theatre Company and the NYC Department of Small Business Services; the Made in NY Post Production Training Program, training New Yorkers for entry-level positions in editing, graphic design, motion graphics, and visual effects; and, the Made in NY PA Training Program, which for over ten years has trained and prepared underemployed New Yorkers for entry-level positions on sets in the city’s booming film and television industry.

The Animation Council membership includes:

  • Daniel Abramovich, Stereoscopic Supervisor, Blue Sky Studios
  • Andrew Bly, Co-Founder/CFO, The Molecule
  • Donna Bulford, Chief Revenue Officer, Animation World Network
  • Janice Burgess, Executive Producer The Polos, Co-Executive Producer Enchanting Leela, Creator The Backyardigans
  • Jimmy Calhoun, Acting Chair Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, School of Visual Arts
  • Winnie Chaffee, Head of New York Physical Production, Titmouse Studios
  • Philip Courtney, Chief Executive Office, Urban Arts Partnership
  • Katie Cropper Klein, President, ASIFA East (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation)
  • Tom Eaton, Assistant Professor of Animation, Kingsborough Community College CUNY
  • Lisa Fragner, Head of Development, Blue Sky Studios (21st Century FOX)
  • Melanie Grisanti, Vice President, Production, Sesame Workshop
  • Lisa Goldman, Content Creator and Former President, Women In Animation NYC
  • Masako Kanayama, Production Manager, Silvergate Media
  • Kim Lee, Senior CG Generalist, FuseFX
  • Benjamin Lehmann, Vice President & Executive Producer, Sesame Street
  • Alan Lewis, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Take-Two Interactive
  • Christina Miller, President & General Manager, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim & Boomerang
  • Pilar Newton-Katz, Animation Director/Owner, PilarToons LLC
  • Mary Nittolo, Founder/ Creative Director, the STUDIO
  • Dan Shefelman, Director, Dan Shefelman Studio & Assistant Professor, FIT School of Art & Design
  • Christophil Jude Silva, Lead Animator, Avalanche Studios
  • Frank Suarez, CEO/Executive Producer, Bunko Studios
  • Boris Ustaev, Senior User Experience Designer, Autodesk
  • Lightning Yumeku, Animation Producer/Director, 3 Degrees Films

“Launching the Made In New York Animation Project in Jamaica will augment our holistic and comprehensive Jamaica NOW Action Plan currently underway for the community-driven revitalization and smart growth of Downtown Jamaica,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “The Project is an additional work force initiative to prepare our youth for this rapidly growing sector of the entertainment industry.”

I look forward to working with them to continue to expand access to the arts to students in Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side.”

“I am a strong supporter of the arts, which are a vital part of New York City’s history, culture, and economy,” said State Senator Brian Benjamin. “For young people, an arts education can be a way to express themselves, a way to practice creative critical thinking, a way to learn team work, and can even provide the tools for a successful and meaningful career. I am thrilled that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is launching their Made in NY Animation Project. I look forward to working with them to continue to expand access to the arts to students in Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side.”

State Senator Marty Golden stated, “The animation project being announced today by the City of New York is exciting for our job market, our economy and the talent that calls New York City home. This program will further solidify the fact that the Big Apple is the place to be to make movies, shows, video games and animation projects. I thank the Mayor and his Office of Film and Entertainment for this vision, and I look forward to our continued work in the industry in the future.”

For more information on the Made in NY Animation Project, visit




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