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“With Latin America, we share our culture, our language and many other things, but of course, Europe remains our natural market”

Industry Report: Animation

María Peña Mateos • Chief executive officer, ICEX/Animation from Spain

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Our chat focused on ICEX and Animation from Spain’s activities at this year’s Cartoon Forum and the benefits of producing animated projects in the Iberian country

María Peña Mateos • Chief executive officer, ICEX/Animation from Spain
(© Cartoon)

During this year’s Cartoon Forum (19-22 September), we met up with María Peña Mateos, chief executive officer of ICEX, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade. It’s a particularly fruitful moment for the country’s animation industry, and this fact was celebrated by the gathering’s dedicated Spotlight on Spain. Spain’s animation sector currently employs (both directly and indirectly) almost 30,000 professionals. In 2021, it produced 16 new series, 52 shorts and six features, exporting 90% of its content and reaching a turnover of €900 million per year. During our chat, we delved into ICEX and Animation from Spain’s activities at the event, and explored the main benefits of co-producing animated projects in the Iberian country.

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Cineuropa: Could you talk us through the mission of Animation from Spain and ICEX?
María Peña Mateos: ICEX is a governmental institution in charge of the internationalisation of the economy. We have two main goals: to help our companies abroad so that they can expand internationally, and to attract foreign investments in Spain. Some of the strategic actions we take are to build a strong, positive image for the whole sector and to create collective brands so that they can act as umbrellas for the sector. Specifically, we host more than 300 companies under the umbrella brand Animation from Spain. We also publish a guide every year [you can find the 2022 publication here], through which people can get to know our ecosystem better. The catalogue includes all of the players who have a say in this business and showcases all the services we offer, along with detailed industry figures and information about co-production opportunities.

What will be your main activities at Cartoon Forum?
Cartoon Forum is one of the gatherings we must attend. It is one of the main events, and the most important one in Europe, in the field of animation. It’s not the only one; we also take part in other international forums such as Kidscreen or Pixelatl, and now we’re here in Toulouse. Here, we aim to increase awareness of our skills, with 17 projects being showcased during these days in different fashions. Eight of them are being presented during the pitching sessions. […] The sector is really booming. We’ve got big names like Alberto Mielgo and Sergio Pablos, and we’ve got so many companies with excellent production expertise and great diversity.

Are there any other benefits of co-producing with Spain that you would like to mention?
One of our main added values is our network of co-production treaties, signed with over 30 countries. You need to consider that 70% of our animated titles are co-productions. We’re now enjoying a very special moment, and we’re focusing on strengthening public investment and implementing structural measures to facilitate the sector’s growth. We’re also focusing on tax incentives and making the bureaucratic procedures more flexible. We aim to help the sector to handle all the challenges of this peculiar phase, characterised by a process of digital transformation. [...] We have all you need to include Spain in your international business plan!

Are there any specific regions driving the sector’s growth?
Well, we have different places nationwide. In terms of tax incentives, the Canary Islands offer a very good 50% cash rebate. But Spain’s filming incentive at 30% is also one of the most competitive. I’d say the country’s entire sector is dynamic and diversified, and any given [foreign] company that has specific needs can find the best place to fulfil them. [...] And, of course, there are major centres like Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia as well as areas such as the Basque Country and Galicia, along with the aforementioned Canary Islands, which attract significant foreign investment, but you can find great animation players basically everywhere.

What about Spain’s main co-production partners?
We mainly work with Europe and Latin America. We can’t overlook the importance of the latter. With Latin America, we share our culture, our language and many other things, but of course, Europe remains our natural market, and we’ve been working very closely with institutions and players from all over the continent. France has a strong tradition, and it’s the perfect partner, but we also co-operate with Italy, Germany and so on... The point is that we have such a diverse sector, so one can always find the best match [for that specific project].

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