Deep In Thought

Published: 20 Jul 2018

West of Ireland in focus: Peripheral creative sector impacts and needs

A key part of the legacy of a creative momentum project is the evidence developed to shape future creative sector policy and support programmes. The project has published a series of policy reports focusing on the partner regions. In this article we discuss  some of the key messages from two of our reports focused on the West of Ireland.

Capitalise on the creative industries

Census figures show more people moved out of the western region of Ireland than into it in recent years. Business statistics for the region show a weakening enterprise base with a greater decline in enterprises compared to the rest of Ireland.  But according to a creative momentum project research led by National University of Ireland, Galway, the creative and cultural industries are one business sector that show bright prospects in the region. However to sustain and further capitalise on creative industries in the region, tailored supports are also needed to facilitate the creative business ecosystem to effectively function.

Economic impacts

Our analysis of the economic and social impact of the creative sector in the West of Ireland has found it makes a strong contribution to the region’s economy.

  • Employment: Almost 13,000 people were employed in creative sector in the western region in 2015. A greater proportion of employment was found concentrated in creative (57.3%) than cultural (30%) and craft (12.7%) enterprises.
  • Sales and exports: Total direct sales of craft, cultural and creative produce amounted to €486.2 million in 2016. Using a multiplier to derive the total value of the sector it then reaches €729.2 million.  Exports are estimated at €87.4 million.
  • Future prospects: Looking towards 2020, our research predicts growth in the sector. Employment could reach over 14,000, direct sales €632 million and exports €105 million by the end of the decade.

Socio-economic impacts

The research also identified a range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the west of Ireland.

  • The creative sector is locally embedded, facilitating strong local economy value capture. Our research found the majority of spend by creative sector enterprises on goods and services (52%) and  labour sourcing (80%) takes place in the local economy.
  • It is also an internationally and globally focused sector. While 50% of sales occur in the local market, 32% is national and 18% international.
  • The creative sector can contribute to re-inventing perceptions of peripheral regions as attractive, creative places to live, work and visit. For example, cultural assets in the western region attract large numbers of visitors.

Supporting future development

Our research also assessed creative sector support needs in the West of Ireland based on the perspective of creative practitioners and entrepreneurs. To assist the region’s burgeoning creative sector to reach its full potential, a range of creative enterprise support needs emerged to facilitate future development. These include:

  • Assessment of the potential for further development of the co-working and business incubation infrastructure in the region.
  • Access to finance emerges as a core challenge facing creative sector entrepreneurs. Initiatives are needed supporting better access to finance.
  • Business skills development programmes emerge as an area of need and in particular export skills.
  • Building international relationships and contacts is important to facilitate export development.
  • To support creative human capital development a creative sector apprenticeship scheme would facilitate the process of higher level talent development and retention in the region.
  • Some weaknesses also emerged in our analysis around physical and digital communications infrastructure. Good physical and digital communications infrastructure are complementary resources to creative sector development.

Download the reports below to get the full picture:

Economic and Social Impact Assessment: West of Ireland Creative Sector

Creative Sector Supports in the West of Ireland: Entrepreneur Perspectives on Future Needs


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