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:
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:
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 (2009), Creative West: The Creative Sector in the Western Region
2009: Creative West Report .The WDC undertook a landmark analysis of the Creative economy sector in the West region (www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/reports_CreativeWest.pdf).
The aim was to outline the scope and potential of a heretofore fragmented yet important sector. In a significant analysis it was found that the region had a distinct high value creative sector and potentially a competitive advantage in terms of percentage of the workforce involved in the creative economy:
Fig. 1 – Summary outline of Creative economy economic contribution in the region 2009
2009: WDC supported Roscommon County Council’s annual Douglas Hyde Conference examining how the creative sector can support growth in regional areas. WDC has supported the Conference in each year since.
2010: WDC commissioned NUI Galway to undertake an Economic Impact Assessment of the creative industries sector in the Western Region of Ireland and to estimate the potential impact if the Creative West recommendations in relation to networking and export development were implemented. Report published in 2011 https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/EIA-report-full1.pdf
2011: WDC secured ‘preparatory project’ funding from the Interreg Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) to develop an application for a transnational project to develop the creative industries sector in line with the recommendations in Creative West.
2011-2013: WDC was a project partner in the resulting €1.2m transnational project called ‘Creative
Edge’, led by NUIG http://www.creative-edge.eu/. The WDC was the lead partner responsible for the work package related to export growth. Some of the activities the WDC implemented included:
- MyCreativeEdge.eu: WDC led the development of www.MyCreativeEdge.eu. An online platform for creative enterprises from the West of Ireland, Northern Finland, South East of Northern Ireland and Mid-Sweden to create free online profiles to showcase their work to international markets. By the end of the Creative Edge project in December 2013, there were 326 published profiles on the site and there had been 37,000 site visits, 1 in 3 from outside the partner regions. The WDC produced a final report on the process http://www.mycreativeedge.eu/new-report-developing- mycreativeedge-published/
- Talent Voucher Scheme: WDC participated in this scheme which provided funding for members of MyCreativeEdge to collaborate on a specified project. In total five vouchers were allocated to creative enterprises in the Western Region of Ireland and each worked with another creative enterprise in the region. The WDC wrote the final report on the activity.
- Creative Steps: four recent graduates from the West of Ireland worked with students from Finland, Sweden and Northern Ireland on a number of innovation challenges provided by businesses outside of the creative sector. The aim was to transfer creative skills to businesses outside of the sector. A report on the process is available here http://www.creative-edge.eu/publications/project-reports/
- Creative Edge Mapping Tool: Under the Creative Edge project, NUI Galway undertook a Mapping Exercise to estimate the size of the creative industries sector in each of the partner regions, including the Western Region of Ireland. This exercise differed from the approach taken in the Creative West report as it was based on published databases and only counted businesses of two or more persons and therefore excluded much of the Creative Expression (arts, music, crafts, photography etc) activities. This was published in 2013 and estimated there were 2,644 creative enterprises of two or more persons in the Western Region of Ireland (http://mapping.creative-edge.eu/business)
2012: WDC launched the WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries to provide micro-finance to creative enterprises in the region. To date 17 micro-loans worth €313,000 have been issued https://www.wdc.ie/wdc-investment-fund/micro-loan-fund/
2012 – Sligo coco launched 4CNW (Creative Challenge Celtic Crescent North West) , a business innovation support programme to demonstrate how public authorities can stimulate business innovation take-up and increase enterprise, through a unique service innovation that partners creative professionals with businesses in the wider economy. The 4CNW programme was implemented transnationally across the jurisdictions of Ireland (North West), Northern Ireland and Scotland by the Creative State North West PPP in 2012/13. It was co-financed by the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA) an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry. The pilot voucher actions, led by Ireland, Spain and Austria each ran for 2 years 2012/13. Sligo coco and WDC partnered in running this programme. A voucher fund of €100,000 was piloted, linking creative resources to industry demand.
2012: WDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland for three years to work together to promote the development of the design and crafts sector in the Western Region.
2013: WDC co-funded the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s International Fair Fund to support craft businesses from the West of Ireland to participate in overseas Trade Fairs. The WDC has supported the IFF in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
2013: WDC, with Teagasc, provided the Secretariat for the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas. The WDC was responsible for inputs on the role of the creative industries in rural development and many of the findings of the Creative West report and the WDC’s experience to date influenced the inputs https://www.wdc.ie/wp-content/uploads/Cedra-List_of_Recommendations.pdf
2015: WDC administered and management the Yeats2015 year-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeas. Direction and oversight was provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and there was a steering group, comprising stakeholders from the Abbey Theatre, RTE, the Arts Council, National Gallery of Ireland, Tourism Ireland, NUIG, UL, the Gallery Press (and many more). Estimated attendance of 1 million across national and international events held during the year. http://yeats2015.com/
Preliminary overview findings include:
- Over 1000 events took place both at home and abroad related to Yeats2015
- Educational engagement – estimated 80,000 pupils engaged in “the magic within “ collaborations with the department of education
- Delivery of Yeats Day programming in Ireland and internationally allowed Failte/Tourism Ireland to co-brand Ireland as a creative and cultural location internationally
- Over twenty-five Yeats2015 funded events took place with additional support provided by Yeats2015team in terms of promotion and management;
- Several landmark Yeats2015 events during autumn programming –notably, “Beautiful Lofty Things” and “Blood and the Moon” at the National Concert Hall, Dublin; Sligo Live; Harp Festival of Moons at Thoor Ballylee with Caitriona Yeats; The Muse of Yeats Festival hosted by Aisling Law, granddaughter of Maud Gonne;
- Public relations activity, generating an overall initial value of over €4 million, final estimates could be over €10 million
- Significant social media traction –in particular #YeatsDay and #YourYeats; Tourism Ireland particularly positive about impact
- Key international engagement –a significant partner to Yeats2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s missions internationally programmed individual Yeats2015 events throughout the year –a full breakdown of this programming is available via DFAT; Initial figures of Yeats2015 engagement in over 35 countries ( including Shanghai metro collaboration)
- Yeats Fund – enabled scores of artistic pieces to be created and events to be realised
2015: WDC called as Witness to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to present on its activities to implement the Creative West report and other activities. https://www.wdc.ie/publications/submissions/#toggle-id-2
2015: WDC is a member of the Donegal Creative Entrepreneurship Partnership Committee which is overseeing the implementation of the Action Plan for Creative Enterprise in County Donegal, which drew heavily on the recommendations of Creative West.
2016: The WDC, in partnership with GMIT and the Galway Film Centre, is developing a Creative Pathways/Enterprise Hub initiative which is linked directly to five of the top tier recommendations of the Creative West Report namely:
- Establishing Networks of Practice
- Facilitate export growth and domestic sales
- Facilitate the transfer of creatives abilities into the wider business environment
- Nurture and develop future creative talent through education
- Develop creative connectors and hubs in the region to facilitate business and operators to work in suitable and effective environments
2016: WDC is a member of the Regional Alliance for the ‘Creative Communities Igniting Change’ Erasmus+ project led by Roscommon Integrated Development Company, to support unemployed disadvantaged youth to establish an enterprise in the creative sector.
2016: The WDC signed a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland to develop new initiatives, potential EU projects and on training/workshops within the region.
2016: WDC has recently been successful in Phase 1 of the INTERREG Atlantic Area Programme for a European Literary Tourism Initiative (ELTI) and the application is now progressing to Stage 2 with partners from Northern Ireland, England, Spain, Portugal and France. ELTI’s overall objective is to increase economic activity in four regions of the Atlantic Area by delivering a transnational cultural tourism product that capitalises on the unique selling point of internationally recognised writers and developing their links to the landscapes, communities and SMEs of the regions.
2016: European Capital of Culture 2020. The WDC supported Galway’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2020. The WDC has now begun discussions with the Galway2020 team on becoming a key partner of in a regional capacity. The objective of ensuring Galway’s hosting of European Capital of
Culture in 2020 brings benefits to its wider region will be a key element of the WDC’s involvement.
2017: WDC approved €1M for establishment of a creative hub in Galway with GMIT – Aim was to create an enterprise space and support system to enable growth of creative businesses in the western region.
2017: WDC funded premiere of “Halal Daddy” movie in Sligo. Attended by hundreds of film followers this first film premiere in Sligo in a generation led to significant publicity for sector and region internationally.
2017: WDC co-funded the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s International Fair Fund to support craft businesses from the West of Ireland to participate in overseas Trade Fairs. The WDC has supported the IFF in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 2017. In 2018 CCoI maintained WDC as partners despite WDC inability to fund partnership in that year.
2017: WDC developed with Galway film Centre and partners a solution for the regional film sector, Western Regional Audio-visual Producers Fund (WRAP Fund). This €2 M fund was launched by Minister Sean Kyne in October 2017. The WDC through the WRAP fund is seeking to inject monies to enable productions and new businesses in the region. In May 2018 the first co-funded production “calm with horses” was announced to commence filming in the region in the coming months.
2018 (started 2015): WDC is the lead partner in the three-year, €2m transnational project called ‘Creative Momentum’ co-funded by the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (NPA). Examples of activities being implemented by the WDC:
- Re-development of MyCreativeEdge.eu: the online platform has been re-developed and the new site will go live shortly. A new international digital marketing campaign will be launched in late 2016 to promote the site to international clients. Currently there are 649 published profiles on MyCreativeEdge, 262 of these from the Western Region of Ireland. The website has received 119,189 website visits since its launch in June 2013.
- Trade Fair Support: So far the WDC has supported three enterprises from the Western Region to exhibit at an overseas Trade Fair. A second call for applications will be issued shortly.
- Peer-to-Peer Mentoring in Internationalisation: Creative entrepreneurs from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland and Sweden are matched for a six-month online peer-to-peer mentoring programme. Twenty-six enterprises are participating in the first round and the call for the second round is now
- Creative Hotspots: Enterprises from each region are supported to attend an established creative event in a partner region. So far the WDC has supported seven enterprises from the West of Ireland to participate in events in Sweden and Northern Ireland. Further enterprises will be supported to travel to Finland and Iceland during 2017.
- Creative Exchanges: The WDC is holding a series of information and networking events for creative enterprises across the Western Region. Four have been held to date in Galway, Leitrim, Clare and Sligo. Further events will be held during 2016 and
- Creative Steps 2.0: A collaborative innovation programme of students and established creative businesses. The programme will be held four times during the project with approximately 16 students from the West of Ireland and eight enterprises
- Creative Sector Index: The WDC is working with NUI Galway on the development of a Creative Sector Index which will measure the current size of the creative sector in the Western Region and each of the other partner regions. The first version of the Index is due to be published in Q1
- Economic Impact Assessment: The WDC is working with NUI Galway to conduct an Economic Impact Assessment to assess the economic role of the creative industries sector in each partner region. The WDC provided input to the survey which is about to be issued. The report on the Economic Impact Assessment for the West of Ireland was published May 2018. mycreativeedge.eu/site-pages/creative-momentum
Fig. 2– Summary outline of Creative economy economic contribution in the region 2017
The WRAP Fund
The Western Region Audiovisual Producer’s Fund — or WRAP Fund — is an initiative of the Galway Film Centre and the Western Development Commission (WDC) . The WRAP Fund was launched on the 12th October 2017.
The objective of the new WRAP Fund is to facilitate the development of, and investment in, film, television, gaming and animation projects in the Western Region.
It will run over a three-year period in association with the local authorities in the counties of Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Údarás na Gaeltachta .
The €2m fund will increase the number of screen content production projects undertaken in the region, creating direct employment of 90 jobs.
As well as supporting local projects, it is hoped that the Fund will also help attract international production companies to the western region, having knock-on benefits for the wider economy and for future tourism to the region
The WDC believes that the creative sector is extremely important to the Western Region, which has a rich history of significant film and television activity. It has been working to develop the industry over the years through initiatives such as the WDC’s Creative Industries Micro Loan Fund and its work with EU projects such as MyCreativeEdge.
To be eligible for the fund, projects must demonstrate commercial potential and have a significant presence in the Western Region. The aim of investing in projects with commercial potential will allow the Fund to make a return on investment in order to create a legacy fund for future projects within the region.
Calm With Horses, the feature debut of Nick Rowland starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan and Niamh Algar which is set to shoot in the West of Ireland in May in co-production with Element Pictures was the first project supported by the WRAP Fund.
For more information on the WRAP Fund contact Sarah Dillon
Telephone: 091 45 49 93
 Creative Momentum EU project – NUIG Whitaker institute 2018