Greetings from Sheffield, England, and the Showcomotion conference. This is the fifth gathering, and it’s become one of my – and the British children’s media industry’s – favorite meetings. For me, at least, this is because it’s perpetually forward looking. Even last year, when UK children’s TV seemed to be at a nadir in finances and morale, there was no hand-wringing or “woe are we” attitude, but instead a figurative rolling up of sleeves and commitment to getting closer to the audience to do more with less.
One sign of the value UK professionals assign to Showcomotion: there are 119 contributors (speakers, moderators, producers) this year, and virtually all are volunteers. They’ll be speaking to roughly 400 people in the audience.
The 2008 Showcomotion theme is “Theirspace,” an assessment of new ideas, best practices and how well we as adults are providing content for all the old and new places young people access media. (I am here, as always, to present screenings and discussion of children’s TV from around the world, drawn from the recent PRIX JEUNESSE, perhaps, the most “traditional media” session of the conference.)
More than any year before, the speakers come from gaming, social networks and other digital development, though of course there’s still strong representation from the TV channels and independent producers. Among the most interesting sessions, as well, should be those dealing with policy – tonight the shadow (opposition) minister for culture and broadcasting will open the conference, and tomorrow there will be opportunities to question regulators and activists, plus a chance to feed into the BBC Trust’s review of service to children.