LAIKA and Portland Community College Team Up for Diversity in Animation

John Nguyen

LAIKA, the studio behind animated films such as Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link, has partnered with Portland Community College to foster diversity and inclusivity in the animation industry. The studio is contributing $60,000 to help with student scholarships and a new animation and graphics degree.

At LAIKA’s studios. From left, Multimedia Instructor Eric Fauske, PCC President Dr. Adrien Bennings, Chief Marketing and Operations Officer David Burke and Production Supervisor Jesselee Kahaloa.

LAIKA will be pledging $30,000 a year for two years to support the LAIKA Scholarship and program funds. The goal is to help with creating an associate degree in Animation & Motion Graphics, creating more opportunities for those who want to become animators in Oregon.

“This collaboration aligns with PCC’s commitment to providing accessible, culturally responsive education,” said PCC President Dr. Adrien Bennings. “By working closely with LAIKA, we can ensure that our students receive the training and support they need to succeed in the animation industry.”

Portland Community College will have three new “Animation” and “Stop Motion” courses and a proposed Animation & Motion Graphics Program thanks to the partnership. The degree still needs to be state-approved, but this is the start of helping students with learning traditional and digital animation techniques.

“LAIKA is honored to partner with PCC,” said LAIKA’s Chief Marketing and Operations Officer David Burke. “As a community of creators, artists, and scientists dedicated to advancing the animation medium, we are delighted to play a part in fostering the skills, aspirations, and talents of PCC’s student body. Our commitment extends to nurturing film narratives that encompass a wide range of experiences and to help grow the next generation of storytellers who will carry our art form forward. We can’t wait to offer mentorship and provide the necessary tools for these artists to thrive and shape the future of animation.”

Courtesy of LAIKA

With the program at PCC, it would help make it the regional hub for digital arts education. The college currently offers an associate degree in Multimedia, Multimedia Certificate and Video Production & Emerging Media. 46% of students identify as a person of color, making PCC one of the most diverse student populations.

With the help of the Oregon Film Office, PCC Multimedia students will have internship opportunities and portfolio reviews with LAIKA.

“We are so excited to be partnering with LAIKA and its innovative production studio,” said Erik Fauske, PCC multimedia instructor. “The scholarship donations and program funds will provide financial support to incoming students and equitable access to cutting edge industry tools. LAIKA’s curriculum feedback, portfolio support and guidance on workflow will impact students to be job ready with relevant skills. At Multimedia, we provide an eclectic array of classes in many areas of production and we are so excited to enhance our animation, visual effects, and motion graphic curriculum.”