California may soon acquire a California animation museum project after a support organization was successful in obtaining $2.5 million in preliminary funding from the state.

California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million
California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million

The initiative, spearheaded by creative director Eddie Newquist and supported by a former Dreamworks Animation president and a “Frozen” director, intends to honor the history of animation and provide instructional material for students.

Is the opening of a California animation museum project imminent?

State senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) said on 05/07/2022 that he was instrumental in getting $2.5 million included in the 2022 – 2023 California state budget to launch the creation of a virtual and actual animation museum.

California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million
Is the opening of a California animation museum project imminent?

The project still has a long way to go before it can be completed.

Additional fundraising efforts will be made in the future, along with outreach to animation studios and organizations like the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA-Hollywood), a non-profit organization that organizes the Annie Awards for animation and which, on its own, had been creating plans for a museum to honor the art form.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena region, which has traditionally served as an animation hub, is one potential location. Walt Disney Animation Studios have its headquarters in Burbank since 1940, Dreamworks Animation has had its headquarters in Glendale since it was founded in 1994, and one of the most recent additions is a new Netflix Animation facility in Burbank.

California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million
California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million

Eddie Newquist, a creative executive who has worked on promotional tours and exhibitions such as Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Avatar: Discover Pandora, and the Game of Thrones Studio Tour, is the initiative’s founder and chairman.

Hollywood producer Chris DeFaria, a former executive at DreamWorks Animation (Gravity, Ready Player One), Academy Award winner Chris Buck, who co-directed Disney’s Frozen with Jennifer Lee, and former Disney executive and co-founder of Iwerks Entertainment Stan Kinsey make up a small advisory group.

Newquist claims that the inspiration for the museum came to him, Portantino, Buck, and DeFaria at a career day at a nearby high school four or five years ago. “It just came up in conversation,” says Newquist, “that it’s sort of unfortunate that there isn’t a location to honor it considering how much of the history of animation has happened in and around Southern California.”

He claims that after making a commitment to support his proposal, the group got in touch with him several years later to let him know that the fiscal year’s budget surplus had allowed for increased funding for the arts and historic preservation.

Portantino, whose district encompasses Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena, claims he informed Newquist that “now is the year to do it.” Portantino then made a formal request to add financing for the approved project to the state budget.

Early proposals by Newquist call for hosting gallery shows, exhibitions, and events in a physical space, while a virtual component might reach those beyond the state. The goal is to examine the development of animation technology and its history while simultaneously providing students with educational material.

The objective, according to Newquist, is to “celebrate this industry while also opening people’s eyes and inspiring young people to look at animation as really a terrific visualization tool, whether you want to get into science, whether you want to get into video game production, or whether you want to get into robotics.”

“We want to confirm that this is indeed taking a very, very broad view across the board. And while I am aware that is a difficult task at the moment, this is our chance to sort of shoot high and have great dreams.

If the museum is successful, it will join two other prominent new museums in Los Angeles that focus on the entertainment industry and, to a lesser extent, animation. In the fall of 2021, the $484 million Academy Museum with its animation gallery and tribute to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki debuted.

When the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art opens in 2023, it will exhibit animation under the “narrative art” umbrella together with comic creative, photography, paintings, and other art genres. THR has estimated that the museum will cost $1.5 billion.

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Building an animation museum is not a novel concept

California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million
Building an animation museum is not a novel concept

According to industry veteran Frank Gladstone, who is currently the executive director of ASIFA-Hollywood, the concept to establish an animation museum in the Burbank region was conceived more than ten years ago.

He explains that when they were unable to raise the money to open the museum – which had an architectural firm on board and intended to feature a screening theater and library – that concept was abandoned.

More recently, ASIFA started the process. When the COVID-19 epidemic struck, the idea was shelved as ASIFA handed up the lease to its space. Initially, they had intended to build a tiny museum inside the organization’s then-Burbank headquarters. Gladstone reported that project planning has since resumed.

“We had to take a few years off from it. However, this is a project we have never given up on. We’ve wanted to do that for a long time, and it’s on our agenda right now,” he says to THR, noting that ASIFA already has a sizable archive of films, concept art, storyboards, notes, and production cells.

He claims that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is currently archiving a large portion of the theatrical animation content in ASIFA’s collection, and the Academy confirmed this.

Gladstone acknowledges that the state “had not contacted us,” so he and the ASIFA board were taken aback by the announcement on 05/07/2022 of the funding for an animation museum.

He replies, “We would welcome speaking with them. Newquist claims that although he hasn’t had an opportunity to arrange face-to-face discussions yet, ASIFA is “definitely on our radar.”

Newquist also indicated an interest in collaborating with various organizations and reaching out to the animation community, which includes studios, people, and organizations like ASIFA.

California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million
California animation museum project Secures $2.5 million

Newquist is aware that the $2.5 million set out in the state budget for this year is just the beginning and that more fundraising strategies are required. According to him, the initial $2.5 million from the state budget will be used to hire staff to help with fundraising, as well as to recruit executive management.

Portantino continues, “It was necessary for the state to step up early and deliver that word that we want to do this,” adding that he thinks the idea will “snowball” from this point.

Remembering the earlier failed attempt to build an animation museum, Gladstone declares with optimism, “Now I think the money could be raised.” “Animation is so pervasive, and [this industry] employs so many people. It merits something significant.

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Conclusion – Here’s what we know about the California animation museum project so far

California state senator Anthony Portantino said on 5/7 that he had asked for and been given permission to utilize $2.5 million of the state’s 2022–2023 budget to build a California animation museum project in the Burbank – Glendale – Pasadena region.

Early designs call for organizing exhibits and displays in a physical space while simultaneously hosting a virtual component for interested people who are unable to visit the museum physically. The goal is to look at animation’s past while also giving students who will advance the medium in the future an inspirational and informative experience.

This is not the first time an animation studio has been planned for Southern California. The COVID-19 outbreak recently interrupted ASIFA plans for Hollywood to construct a tiny museum at its Burbank offices. Since then, ASIFA has renounced the lease for that property.

The THR story claims that ASIFA was taken aback when the announcement of museum financing was revealed earlier this week because the group had not been approached over the project.

However, Newquist and ASIFA Executive Director Frank Gladstone remain open to working together in the future on plans for the museum. Additionally, Newquist indicated a wish to collaborate with animation industry studios, people, and groups.

Naturally, $2.5 million won’t go very far toward constructing a real, physical museum in Southern California. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, slated to open next year, is expected to cost roughly $1.5 billion, whereas the Academy Museum, which opened last year, cost $484 million.

The group still has a lot of fundraising to do, but getting support from the local government is a terrific place to start.

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