What is the ‘creative sector’?

The creative sector is defined as ‘Occupations and industries centred on creativity, for the production and distribution of original goods and services’. It includes businesses such as architecture, designers, publishers and software developers. In total, 12 individual creative industries are considered to make up the creative sector:

WDC involvement

Strong growth potential
A recent United Nations report estimated that globally over the period 2000-2005 world trade in creative goods and services grew at an average annual rate of 8.7%, with total world exports in 2005 reaching €424.4bn. The creative economy plays a strong role in the enhancement of the economy locally in the Western region too – as the table below shows:

High-quality employment

The creative sector is both knowledge (its workforce need specific skills and high-level qualifications) and labour intensive (especially in certain industries e.g. theatre or film production). In the EU in 2004, an estimated 46% of the 5.8 million people working in the cultural and creative sector had at a university degree (in comparison to 25.7% of the total workforce).

Stimulates innovation in other sectors

The creative sector can also raise the general level of creativity and innovation across the economy. Recent research showed that businesses with strong links to the creative sector display stronger innovation performances. These are generally businesses that use products and services sourced from the creative sector as inputs to their own innovation process (e.g. bespoke software). They also gain new ideas from through interacting with individuals working in the creative sector.

An important social role

The creative sector can generate important social and cultural impacts – a greater sense of community, the inclusion of marginalised groups, social interaction at creative events and regeneration in relatively deprived areas. The creative sector can also play a key role in improving the image of an area, increasing its attractiveness as a location to live, visit or set up a business.

Stimulate rural and regional development

Evidence from the US and the UK suggests that there is now strong creative sector growth in rural communities – the sector’s unique nature (dependent on individual creativity) means that personal reasons can be the most important factor in determining a business’s location. In addition, because the creative sector is mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), personal factors mean that creative individuals or firms may be more likely to locate in a rural region than perhaps larger-scale enterprises whose location is determined by cost, tax or local labour supply advantages.

WDC research on the creative sector

To compensate for the lack of data on the Irish creative sector, the WDC commissioned baseline research to investigate the size and nature of the region’s creative sector and to identify the sector’s key issues. The resulting ‘Creative West’ report presents a summary of the key findings from the baseline research and sets out a number of recommended actions to promote the creative sector’s future growth in the region. It is hoped that this document will stimulate interest in the Western Region’s creative sector from both within and outside the region, and generate interest among stakeholders in working to progress the recommendations outlined.
You can download the resulting report Baseline Research on the Creative Industries Sector in the Western Region of Ireland here.

What needs to be done?

  • Allow more effective production and development of creative goods and services through establishing networks of practice.
  • Facilitate export growth and domestic sales by promoting the ‘Creative West’.
  • Facilitate the transfer of creative capabilities into the wider business environment.
  • Nurture and develop future creative talent in the region through education.
  • Develop creative connectors and hubs in the region to facilitate businesses and operators to work in suitable cost-effective environments.
  • Accelerate growth of creative businesses through enhanced broadband capacity (particularly the high productivity creative technology sector).
  • Establish a national policy for the creative sector as a whole to provide a coherent structure for developing the sector