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, according to Gillian Buckley, chief executive of the Western Development Commission. Ms Buckley was speaking at the launch of the WDC’s report Creative West: The Creative Sector in the Western Region, the first study of its kind conducted in Ireland. She added: “There are 4,779 creative businesses operating in the western region, directly employing over 11,000 people or three per cent 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.”
The creative sector refers to those businesses which rely most on human creativity to generate economic value, ranging from TV production, music, theatre, architecture, graphic design to the running of art galleries. Ms Buckley added: “With an average annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent in world trade of creative goods and services, the creative sector will be to the forefront in building Ireland’s smart economy in that it offers the opportunity to develop thriving indigenous enterprises. If we are to fully realise this potential we must begin by understanding the current situation in the region and the challenges facing the sector’s future growth. This is why the WDC commissioned this research to investigate the size of the region’s creative sector and to identify the key issues which people working in the sector face.”
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív said: “The Western Development Commission is keen to promote the creative sector in this part of the country, not just because of the inherent importance of the arts in our nation’s psyche and identity, but because it also has the potential to contribute to the sustainable long-term development of this predominantly rural region. Simply put, it makes economic sense to support creativity.”
The report shows that creative businesses in the Western Region tend to be small scale with a high level of entrepreneurship among creative people. Typically, these people are highly skilled, with a study of the EU showing that 47 per cent of those employed in the sector hold a university degree, which is a significantly higher share than in the general workforce.
Ms Buckley concluded: “What we have learnt is that the western region is perfectly positioned for further expansion within the sector as the region, by virtue of its natural beauty and quality of life, has inspired a culture of creativity. We believe the region can continue to attract creative people from all over the world who, from their home in the west, can feed the increasing world appetite for design, music, film, digital media and the arts.”