So much data. So little time.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the data and analytics from your social media and website? How can you tell who’s genuinely interested and who’s just browsing? How do you know if your online promotion and paid posts/tweets are effective?

The Western Development Commission (WDC), through ‘a creative momentum project’, is organising a free seminar in Castlebar at 9.30 on Tuesday, 29 November to try to answer some of these questions. ‘So much data. So little time: Using your online data to grow your creative enterprise’ is open to anyone working in the creative industries sector including arts, crafts, design and media & technology. Visit for more information.

This half-day event will include expert presentations, business stories and an interactive workshop. Kevin Neary of Connectors Marketplace is among the speakers. Modern buyers are socially connected, digitally driven and very mobile. Kevin will show how creative enterprises can identify and engage with the modern buyer. Joanne Casey of Belfast-based GlowMetrics will discuss developing a digital marketing strategy suited to your creative business. She will also run a Google Analytics workshop on setting goals to measure your digital activity.

Kevin Neary, Connectors Marketplace

Kevin Neary, Connectors Marketplace

Two West of Ireland creative enterprises with a strong digital presence will share their experiences. Dina Coughlan of Leitrim-based Tremolo Music Publishing will show how they connect with and sell to clients worldwide. While Ainslie Peters of Galway’s Nádhúra design will outline the experience of a business providing customisable furniture and bespoke design services.  Nádhúra are one of the companies who have previously received a WDC Micro-Loan: Creative Industries.

Ainslie Peters, Nádhúra

Ainslie Peters, Nádhúra

Attendees can also book 1-2-1 mentoring sessions in the afternoon on digital marketing/online sales. They will also have a chance to book a session with a WDC Investment Executive to discuss the WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries. The seminar takes place in the Breaffy House Resort at 9.30 on Tuesday 29 November. Attendance is free but as places are limited registration is essential. Book here

a creative momentum project is co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme 2014-2020.  It supports the development of the creative industries sector in five countries across Europe’s Northern Edge. The project operates the website and in the West of Ireland is implemented by the WDC and NUI Galway.


Showcase your Creative Work Effectively

Under a creative momentum project and the MyCreativeEdge website, the Western Development Commission is holding two free information and networking events for anyone working in the creative industries sector in the West of Ireland.

Showcase your Creative Work Effectively will be held twice (click the links to register):

At each session, a panel of four speakers will give insight into how creative enterprises can make an impression on clients including consumers, buyers, distributors, and exhibitors from Ireland and abroad. Both online and physical showcasing techniques will be discussed.

CE1-Ennis postcard for FB

Among the speakers are Patrick McHugh (photographer & web design), James McKeon (designer and owner of Kiyoni), Richard Skelton (Business Development Director at ICAN), Ashleigh Smith (designer and founder of Atlantic Equipment), Martha Kearns (content & PR specialist, and co-founder of Storylab), Joanna Zalech & Aleksandra Kieldanowicz (OLYART).

There will also be an opportunity to find out more about the WDC’s activities in support of the creative sector including a creative momentum project, and the WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries.

Following the event there will be a chance to meet with others working in the creative sector in the region over some refreshments and light snacks. Showcase your Creative Work Effectively is the first in a series of Creative Exchanges, which the WDC will organise during 2016 and 2017.

a creative momentum project is a three-year (2015-2018), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) with a total budget of €2m. Its aim is to support the development of the creative industries sector in regions across Europe’s Northern Edge.

Find out more and register for the events here

CE1-Sligo postcard for FB

Survey shows 60% of creative entrepreneurs working on their own

Later today (29 October), the WDC will launch a new transnational project to support the development of the creative industries sector.

The new three-year, €2m transnational creative momentum project aims to support creative entrepreneurs through innovation and skills development, opportunities to network and collaborate across the five partner countries and improved access to international markets. The project will be run by six partner organisations based in Mid-Sweden, North East Iceland, Northern Finland, South East of Northern Ireland and West of Ireland. It is co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme.

In order to inform the development of the project’s activities, the project circulated an online survey to creative entrepreneurs based in the participating regions. The survey ran from 28 September to 18 October and there were a total of 170 responses. The preliminary results of the analysis show some very interesting findings which have implications for policy and supports aimed at developing this sector.

  • 60% of respondents indicated they worked on their own, with a further 31% working in enterprises employing fewer than five people. The survey also showed that just over half (53%) of respondents worked from their own home. The sector seems to be strongly characterised by sole traders and freelancers.
  • 45% reported being members of some form of creative network or collective.
  • 68% reported that they made some sales outside of their own country, which was higher than indicated in previous surveys. Cross-border business between Ireland and Northern Ireland seemed to be a strong element in these export sales. Of those businesses who did not export currently (44), 70% indicated a desire to export.
  • For those who did make export sales, personal sales was the most significant route, reported by 21% of respondents, 14% indicated they used their own online shop, 11% that they exhibited at galleries in other countries and 9% indicated they used retail outlets in their target market.
  • In terms of mentoring, it found that 43% had not received any mentoring, while 43% had received mentoring. A further 10% had been both a mentor and had been mentored at some stage.
  • For training needs, showcasing/presenting your work, marketing, accessing new markets and sales were the top four topics.

Further analysis on these survey results will be published over the coming weeks on and will be useful in highlighting the current issues facing entrepreneurs across this sector.

Under a creative momentum project, the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will be undertaking a number of studies of the creative industries sector, and its value, to the partner regions.

Pauline White

WDC presents on Creative Economy to JOC

The WDC was invited to present to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation on its work in developing the Creative Economy. On Tuesday 21 April, the WDC as well as NUI Galway, Teagasc, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and TG4 presented on the potential for job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative sector.

The WDC has worked with this sector since 2008. At that time, after the collapse of the building sector and its knock-on impacts across the domestic economy, there was a clear need to identify and support new sources of regional economic growth and job creation. The creative industries sector was in many ways an obvious choice for the region as it is mainly made up of self-employed or micro-enterprises with people quite embedded in their local area. The sector was showing strong growth internationally and could create jobs and contribute to tourism, including in rural areas.

As there was little research in Ireland at the time, the WDC commissioned Creative Sector Baseline Report 2008 (PDF 2.5MB) to investigate the size and nature of the region’s creative sector and to identify its key issues. The Creative West 2009 (PDF 1.9MB) report found that there were 4,800 businesses in the creative sector in the Western Region, employing 11,000 people and generating €534m in annual turnover, directly contributing €270m to the Gross Value Added of the regional economy.   There was limited export activity however with two-thirds not engaged in any exporting. The majority of those in the sector were self-employed with 40% working alone and almost 90% being micro-enterprises.

Quality of life and inspiration from the region’s landscape and culture were among the strongest motivators for creative people to live and work in the Western Region. They faced a number of constraints however that can be addressed by policy and enterprise supports. Chief among these are high bandwidth broadband for creative enterprises operating in rural areas, difficulties in finding and recruiting specific skills, and quite limited networking with others in the sector and wider business community.   Creative businesses often do not fit easily into the eligibility criteria for enterprise funding and may find it difficult to access finance.

The report set out a series of recommendations for developing the sector in the region which have formed the basis of the WDC’s activities to support the sector. Under Creative Edge  (a €1.2m transnational EU-funded project, 2011-2013) the WDC developed the website to provide an online showcase for creative enterprises, with over 550 now profiled on the site. The new 3-year, €2m Creative Momentum project will further develop new routes to export markets for creative enterprises, as well as providing international networking opportunities with creative enterprises from Northern Ireland, Iceland, Sweden and Finland. The WDC Micro-Loan Fund: Creative Industries  provides loans of €5,000-€25,000 to creative enterprises and to date has funded 12 creative enterprises across the Western Region.

Nationally the Action Plan for Jobs identified the creative sector as one of the key sectoral opportunities for economic growth and job creation in Ireland. As the new Action Plan for Jobs – Regional process develops, it is important that the potential of the creative industries to contribute to sustainable job creation and enterprise growth at a regional level be recognised and the sector supported. Under the Creative Edge project the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway developed the Creative Edge Policy Toolkit which set out a number of recommendations on policy actions that could be taken to support the sector’s growth. This could provide a useful input.

The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA)  has also identified creative industries as a key growth sector for rural economic diversification and recommended the development of a coordinated strategy for the sector that places specific focus on its potential to contribute to the rural economy. Such a coordinated strategy however needs to be worked out through sector-specific policies and actions in the areas of enterprise support, job creation, culture, skills development and regional economic development to make a meaningful contribution.

A full transcript of the discussion at the JOC can be found here

Pauline White