Douglas Hyde Conference 2009

Conference hears that the Arts can play a central role in our economic recovery.

The Douglas Hyde Conference, taking place this weekend in Ballaghaderreen, has heard that the creative sector is uniquely positioned to lead, contribute to and enhance the smart economy.

Dara Calleary, T.D., Minister for Labour Affairs said, “Crucial to any recovery and its sustainment is the willingness to improve and pursue new opportunities. Ireland is ideally placed with its reputation for creative thinking to ensure what we offer, more than anywhere else – is a diverse and different experience. Our cultural and artistic identity as a nation gives us a competitive advantage that now more than ever must be exploited.”
Minister Calleary said that the Minister for the Arts, Martin Cullen will continue to campaign for the Arts Council’s budget, for the retention of the Artists’ Tax Exemption Scheme, and the further promotion of Ireland’s artistic activity abroad by Culture Ireland. “It is our duty to preserve and protect our cultural heritage,” he said.

A DKM research report which Minister Cullen’s Department commissioned into the “Economic Impact of the Arts, Culture and Creative Sectors” demonstrates that there are over 170,000 people working within the arts, creative and cultural sectors in Ireland and that in 2008 the total impact of the sector was €11.8 billion or 7.6% of total GNP. The report is due to be published soon.

Lisa McAllister Chief Executive of the WDC said, “Creativity has long been associated with the Western Region. The WDC completed a study in 2008 ‘Creative West: The Creative Sector in the Western Region’, the first study of its kind conducted in Ireland and it showed that there are 4,779 creative businesses operating in the Western Region, directly employing over 11,000 people or 3% of all employment in the region. This generates an annual turnover of €534m and directly contributes €270m to the Gross Value Added of the regional economy. It is therefore a major economic contributor to the region that we believe can be grown significantly, even in these difficult economic times.”

Ms McAllister added, “The WDC is working to promote and position the Western Region as Ireland’s hub for the creative sector because we know that when international comparisons are factored in the Western Region has the potential to create at least an extra 2,000 jobs in the creative sector. The creative sector has strong growth potential, generates high quality employment, facilitates innovation in other sectors, plays a key social role and can stimulate rural and regional development.”

Kathleen Martin, Director of Community and Enterprise at Roscommon County Council said, “The Douglas Hyde Conference was founded in 1988 in an economic climate not unlike the kind that we are currently experiencing. It was founded then in the knowledge that the things that Douglas Hyde valued during his lifetime – our language, culture and literature – were vitally important to our society in 1988, and they are still as vital now in 2009.”

Presented by Roscommon County Council in association with the Western Development Commission, the format of the conference is built around four talks on Saturday by keynote speakers followed by a panel discussion. The four keynote speakers are; Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin who will talk about festivals and their role and value economically, as platforms for celebration and as platforms to bring Irish arts to audiences all over the world; Finbarr Bradley, economist and author of “Capitalising on Culture, Competing on Difference: Innovation, Learning and Sense of Place in a Globalising Ireland” who sees our cultural identity as being our unique selling point where we can set ourselves apart from other countries; Lisa McAllister, CEO, Western Development Commission; and Roger O’Keeffe Co-ordinator of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 whose presentation will quantify the size of the creative sector in Europe and link it to the importance of creativity and innovation to industry, social activities and quality of life issues.