The pandemic has not been even. Confinement has led to the closure of thousands of companies, but it has also underpinned many markets that depend directly on people’s emotions. I am referring to the creative industries, that branch that we have so much disdained in Mexico and that should be considered as important as the steel industry, mining or the maquila.
During this confinement, many of us have learned — by hook or by crook — to live with ourselves. And that’s where the creative industries have seized the moment. Look at your neighbors and you will see what I mean. On the street where I live, a neighbor decided to buy a saxophone; her classes are just YouTube tutorials. Another neighbor takes online narrative workshops and now wants to write a novel. And surely many of you have increased your consumption of entertainment: video games, series, books, magazines, movies …
The numbers don’t lie. According to the latest NPD Group report, in March purchases related to video games – both hardware and software and accessories – increased by 35% compared to the same period in 2019. Sales are estimated to be worth more than 1.6 billion of dollars. An amount of money that restaurants or the retail sector would like.
Unfortunately, Mexico has not had the vision to exploit this type of industries well. In our country there are around 300 houses that are dedicated to animation for film and video games, but most of them only “maquila” content for foreign producers, which has led to capital and talent flight in this sector.
According to José Iñesta, director of Pixelatl, the Peppa Pig cartoon is a good example to talk about this problem. It turns out that this animated series generates 500 million dollars every year, according to ., but in Mexico the maquila per minute of that character is charged at approximately 200 thousand pesos. The question is: why do we have to be performing makeup artist functions when we can develop our own content or agree on co-productions?
Where the batteries should be put is at IMCINE, an institution that, although it has had many successes in recent years, does lack an area that exclusively supports animation and virtual reality. In Mexico we believe that animation is a genre of fiction cinema, when in reality it is a medium that makes up a huge market with its own laws and its own needs. It is an intellectual property problem and a lack of government support.
The Mexican audiovisual content production industry generated revenues of $ 3 billion in 2017, according to ProMexico. In addition, according to INEGI, culture contributes 3.3% of the national GDP, with audiovisual media being the segment with the highest participation (37.7%). Last year, Mexico was the world’s sixth largest exporter of animation, video games, software and digital content, according to a study by Bancomext. And if all of the above were not enough to understand that we are dealing with a very powerful industry, here is another fact: each year, more than 17 thousand students graduate from careers related to audiovisual productions, such as animation, digital design, cinema , virtual media communication, image and sound design, digital media engineering and interactive animation engineering, according to Mexico Invesment Map.
The problem then is that Mexican animation companies export their work and talent to foreign producers such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Ankama, and have worked on the visual effects of films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron Legacy, Deadpool and Her. All that talent should stay home and be supported.
Unfortunately, not all businesses in the creative industries have registered growth. Bookstores are not having a good time. Neither do the theaters. But it may be a good time to rethink the cultural and economic importance of entertainment.
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