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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.
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 02 April 2024

Portland Community College (PCC) has announced a partnership aimed at fostering diversity and inclusivity in the animation industry with LAIKA, a film studio known for its groundbreaking and award-winning animated films “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Missing Link.”

The cornerstone of this partnership is a $60,000 pledge from LAIKA to the PCC Foundation. Over two years, LAIKA will contribute annual gifts of $30,000 to support the newly established LAIKA Scholarship and program funds. This funding aims to create an associate degree in Animation & Motion Graphics, enhancing educational opportunities for aspiring animators in Oregon.

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

This partnership will result in three new Animation and Stop Motion courses, as well as a proposed Animation & Motion Graphics Program. The degree is not state-approved yet. This would provide students a comprehensive curriculum offering that blends traditional and digital animation techniques. Through co-created studios and industry-standard facilities, students would gain hands-on experience and practical skills under the guidance of experienced professionals.

“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.”

In addition to financial support, LAIKA will provide insights and feedback to shape the program's direction and curriculum. In 2021, LAIKA partnered with Bowie State University to build the first Stop-Motion Animation Studio at a historically Black college/university (HBCU). 

The funding by LAIKA will help boost what PCC already offers for associate degrees in Multimedia, Multimedia Certificate and Video Production & Emerging Media. The department as a whole offers degrees in Creative Coding & Immersive Technologies, Music & Sonic Arts, and Artificial Intelligence & Cultural Computing. In addition, PCC has a diverse student populations with 46% identifying as students of color.

Also, the partnership includes a PCC Multimedia student focused internship opportunity and portfolio reviews with LAIKA, supported by the Oregon Film Office.  

“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.”

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