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Shining a Spotlight on Artist Equity

Despite the growing influence of anime and animation within pop culture, the equity and experiences many creators face still needs structural change and improvement. Some of the focal points of the recent Hollywood strikes was a desire to claim better minimum wages, improved residuals (with a focus on streaming), and proper recognition for artists. More however, doesn't always mean "fair". The strikes have represented the growing discontent among creatives as they see the content they contribute to reach a growing global fanbase. The topic of artist equity often highlights these issues, but fails to discuss the benefits of providing creatives more control and autonomy. In the article below we discuss how the current structure stifles original content and creativity, and the benefits that improving artist equity has for creators and viewers alike.

What is Artist Equity?

Artist equity refers to the fair and equal treatment for artists and creators that involve the various aspects of their work. It encompasses more than providing equal or fair pay, and can also include fair compensation based on contributions, proper recognition, creative control, participation, and transparency. All of these directly impact and support the ability for creatives to continue advancing in their career and foster a sense of fulfillment in the work that gets made.

Benefits of Improving Artist Equity

Improved innovation, full creative investment, sustainable careers, enhanced public relations, and better quality productions are all results of improving artist equity. When a creative feels safe in their ability to earn a stable career their focus can shift to the passions and creativity they hold within. Reducing burnout and stress that often comes with a life in the animation industry can have incredible effects on the final outcome of content. Think about the time you had a good boss, or were able to work for yourself. How much better was the quality of your work when you felt empowered to make choices based on your skill?

We saw the recent strikes focus heavily on artist compensation, residuals, and protection of their craft from AI. While all of these hold distinct value, and can be improved, the recognition of the work that captivates so many is still in dire need of restructuring. Many creatives will wait years before their work is able to be made public, if shown at all. By increasing the recognition we offer the chance for increased visibility, more creative opportunities, and the ability develop and grow a strong portfolio of work. When considering the psychological benefits of improved recognition its a natural conclusion that artists who feel recognized and supported have a higher sense of job satisfaction. When you are encouraged to share your work, your peers are able to celebrate with you, this can lead to new connections, opportunities and relationships that have a direct impact on career growth and long term success.

Compensation matters, and more recognition can lead to different types of compensation for artists as well as improved ability to negotiate as they are able to showcase their contribution to a project. In the coming years more artists will see opportunities for equity in films and series that often are relegated to executives and studios. This long term career and financial security has the ability to open a new frontier of creativity as the creative industry evolves further. Knowing your work is going to be recognized publicly reinforces the desire to put your best foot forward, leading to overall improvements in the work and innovation in the final outcome. If we want to change the animation industry, then taking steps to ensure artist equity as a whole is the starting point.

A Way Forward

How do we create change in an expanding industry? First we can help make others aware of the different compensation models available. The recent strikes raised awareness on inequity in profit sharing, residuals, and standard pay. An example of a new standard can be seen in how the Atrium Production Platform has collaborated in creating The Rise of Blus: A Nouns Movie. The film is taking advantage of the decentralized nature of the production platform that removes the need for studio space and focuses on the immense amount of work a small talented team can create. As an indie film, building in public helps create more awareness but also directly addresses the theme of recognition, allowing Atrium to highlight the directors, cast and crew long before the film is finished.

With the majority of all film and animation coming from major studios, one of the biggest adjustments the industry can make is providing opportunities for smaller production platforms or studios. The opportunity to create The Rise of Blus: A Nouns Movie came from a DAO looking to demonstrate what is possible in this new digital age. The future holds so much more for creatives if we continue to invest in original content and reward those creating it adequately. This new way to create offers more to everyone, with viewers getting the original high quality content they crave, while directors and animators are included in profit sharing and have creative freedom. There will always be a place for big budget blockbusters, but the ability to change the economy of animation and creativity is one that shouldn't be taken lightly. The time for change is among us, and it is no longer when another DAO or Producer chooses to create something original, but how many choose to do so and how many creatives will benefit.

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