Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
The Creative Economy: Discussion
May I remind members and those in the Visitors Gallery to ensure that mobile telephones are switched off for the duration of the meeting, as they interfere with the broadcasting equipment, even when on silent mode. We are now commencing the meeting to discuss the potential for job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative economy. I welcome Dr. James Cunningham, director of the Whitaker Institute at the National University of Ireland Galway, Professor Cathal O'Donoghue, head of the Teagasc rural economy and development programme and Mr. Ian Brannigan, head of regional development at the Western Development Commission.
I draw the attention of witnesses to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I remind our guests that presentations should be of no more than five minutes' duration. Members have already been provided with the full presentations that were submitted.
I invite Dr. James Cunningham to make his presentation.
Dr. James Cunningham:
I am presenting on behalf of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, which is one of the major research institutes, with my colleague, Dr. Pat Collins, who has been leading this research in terms of the creative economy. What I want to present today is a project funded under the EU as a Creative Edge project with a number of partners including the Western Development Commission and partners in Finland and Sweden. This will give the committee a sense of some practical pilot initiatives we have used to try and support the creative economy, given its importance in terms of both urban and regional focus. Our project is a €1.1 million project that finished in 2013. We focused on three key areas: the roles of people, place and creative production, and the milieu of those three areas coming together to form a very vibrant creative economy.
A lot of research has been carried out examining the creative economy in an urban area. This is the first time that a major research project has had an applied focus to look at this issue in a rural context. There are many definitions of the creative economy. Dr. Pat Collins and I are reconceptualising the way one would look at the creative economy, which would include creative expression, such as music and visual-audio performing arts, creative application and creative technology. This is the way we examined the creative economy in the west of Ireland, Northern Ireland, northern Sweden and Finland.
This is the first pioneering mapping, at a very micro level, of the creative economy in rural areas of peripheral parts of Europe. As part of the project, we established creative hubs. Our colleagues in Northern Ireland looked at using vacant buildings to support the creative economy. We also examined the possibilities associated with our website, mycreativeedge.eu, and ways a portal can support and internationalise creatives. That was led by the Western Development Commission. We had mentoring and training programmes. All of these were successful pilot initiatives that made a difference in supporting the creative economy.
If we take the west of Ireland as an example, on the slide is a visualisation of the sector when looking at application, creation and expression. We would consider it to be a diverse sector which crosses a number of different areas. Cultural consumption is important in terms of the number of theatres, museums and culture and heritage sites. These are the science parks of the creative economy in terms of supporting and enabling people to access those.
There is an overall high-level mapping, which is available online if committee members are interested in looking at it in terms of their own context. This is the high-level picture in terms of the areas that we looked at. If we take the audio-visual sector, which is very important in Galway and the west, we see that it is very highly concentrated. When we come down to the micro-level, we can see that there is a high concentration of audio-visual sector initiatives in Connemara, which is a result, I suppose, of TG4 and the evolution of that sector there. My colleague, Dr. Pat Collins, has done a lot of work in terms of understanding that significant cluster.
The other important part of it concerns creative education. We mapped the creative education institutions on the island of Ireland. We identified approximately 3,000 graduate places. There is a need to grow that sector. Graduates from creative courses are four times more likely to create jobs or to be entrepreneurial. They are very significant in terms of job creation and enterprise.
We also created a portal. Many of the creative companies are micro, one or two person, operations, although some of them are bigger. The Western Development Commission pioneered mycreativeedge.eu. This is a portal which a creative can join and put up a profile at no cost. This has been very effective in terms of internationalisation, generating more business and creating a profile for the creatives. In the first few months, up until 2013, 500 businesses had registered with it and it had approximately 36,000 unique visits. For creative industries and one or two person operations, this is a vital source to give them greater visibility.
In the survey, respondents said they wanted networking opportunities and more customised supports. They were seeking a strong international orientation and better mentoring in terms of working with colleagues and building their businesses.
Our colleagues in SEED in Northern Ireland established creative hubs. This might be relevant in terms of vacant buildings throughout the country, particularly in rural areas. They created a template and a toolkit and they set up four hubs during the course of the projects. These hubs are not-for-profit. One or two people can go into a location and set up their businesses. They receive mentoring and there is a whole stakeholder engagement which goes behind that so that these become sustainable hubs for creative enterprises. This has been very successful in Umeå in Sweden.
Our colleagues in Sweden pioneered the mentoring aspect. They also pioneered working with creatives, graduates working with business and creating international meeting points. Finally, our colleagues in Finland pioneered the idea of creative education, internationally, across the four partners, getting them to work with businesses in terms of the creative economy and looking at how they utilise their cross-media skills, which included working with a tyre company to create new products and services.
This is a critical sector for the national economy, one that would equate in terms of time to medical devices and ICT. It is undervalued and needs to be recognised more in terms of coherence and in terms of policy. We also suggest there be more detailed data, similar to what we have pioneered in this project to really map out the rest of the clusters of creative activity throughout Ireland because they are really important to society, rural society, and also in terms of economy. In some senses if one has vibrancy in terms of creative activity and consumption, and also in terms of creation, they are like having many foreign direct investment companies in particular locations. They keep coherency and vibrancy in the local economy.
We also would argue that there needs to be greater coherence at a policy level on co-ordination between the different actors responsible for this sector. Our analysis of Sweden and Finland proves that better policy co-ordination, better regional supports and a more customised approach works and helps in terms of the sectors growing and flourishing. We suggest having a ten-year plan to redevelop the sector, similar to successful models that have been followed for other sectors such as ICT, medical devices, life sciences, etc. We are finding that there is a great appetite from the creatives in terms of the willingness and need to develop this sort of support.
When looked at from a regional and peripheral perspective, the place is the aspect that needs to be protected but also the place helps to harness the uniqueness. Catalysts such as the specialised programmes we have just outlined will help to create new networks and create activity in terms of the internationalisation that is required. Our project has shown us that we can create great connections on a pan-European basis between peripheral regions, working together to boost the economic activity in international trade. Better use of broadband and access to all those kinds of things are critical.
On cultural consumption, 80% of consumption of cultural products comes from seven categories, the highest being television, radio and Internet. It is very important that Ireland is well positioned in these cultural categories to be a very strong and dominant force internationally. There needs to be more analysis of content because this is at the cutting edge.
On education, there needs to be enhanced, broadened understanding of skillsets, discipline and connections. More data need to be collected in terms of creative education. As we would do for other sectors, there is a need for creative innovation hubs throughout the country - mini ones like the creative hubs that we have pioneered with our project.
Those are just some thoughts we have on a project we have run for the past three years and also the research we have done for the past five years in this sector.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
I am grateful for the invitation to appear today. I will speak about a document prepared by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, both in its report and its research report. I acknowledge the input from my colleagues who are present. It very much drew upon work within the Western Development Commission and NUI Galway.
Within the commission we regard the creative sector as being very important. We devoted an entire chapter to it in the research report and there were some very specific recommendations for the sector, recognising the importance to which Dr. Cunningham referred. It is a relatively varied sector building upon performance and expression, technology, and applications such as arts and crafts, etc. It is recognised as a sector that can have an important impact, particularly in rural and more peripheral areas.
OECD research has shown that up to the middle of the last decade, the creative economy grew at twice the annual rate of the service industry and four times that of manufacturing. There is a very high growth potential particularly for the sectors linked into the knowledge economy.
Given the structure of those businesses, they can be complementary to the needs of rural economic development. The Western Development Commission highlighted the fact there are 5,000 businesses and 11,000 direct employees. This is, therefore, a relatively big sector in the west.
The creative economy is a strength and has a competitive advantage for Ireland's rural regions, drawing upon our rural image and capitalising on the creative strengths, thus being a potential source of employment. WDC research shows there is a difference between urban and rural creative industries, with the creative industries in rural areas drawing more upon the land and building, for example, fashion clusters in Donegal and craft clusters in Connemara and places like Offaly and Westmeath. The WDC forecast estimates there are 17,000 potential jobs in the western region alone.
Some of the potential advantages of the sector are due to the fact it is an important indigenous sector providing incomes that benefit people living in Ireland. It has strong growth potential, in line with other aspects of the economy, and often produces high-quality jobs, particularly in the locations in which they are based and especially in more peripheral areas where there may be fewer quality employment opportunities. As a knowledge and creative sector, the sector can help stimulate innovation in the wider economy, particularly given its links with other sectors. It can also play an important social role in making an area more attractive. If there is a strong creative sector in an area, this can have spin-off effects on tourism and other visitor-based businesses and, as a result of its location, can promote rural and regional development.
As in all other economic sectors, people are important drivers for this sector, along with their skills, creativity and innovation. However, there are skill needs. The location of an industry relates to the attraction of a region, in terms of landscape, heritage, infrastructure, social network and quality of life. This feeds in both directions, both drawing upon the environment in which it is based and contributing to the view of that area. As in other sectors, creative supports relate to the infrastructure that can facilitate development, whether funding, networking opportunities, marketing capabilities and infrastructure, especially broadband infrastructure for IT-based businesses. This is critical and was the number one requirement at every meeting CEDRA had throughout the country.
Our document provides a SWOT analysis. I will not go through all the detail on that, but I will mention some of the high-level strengths, such as the high level, quality and diverse mix of skills throughout the country, the natural attributes of locations, and the creative supports where there is critical mass, particularly in Galway, Sligo and Leitrim. On some of the opportunities, there are hidden skills and skills that are not marketed which do not generate an economic return within the sector. There are also possibilities of having more businesses within unspoilt landscapes and opportunities for more export access. A theme across rural economic development concerns how we move from supplying to a local economy to a global economy.
Some of the weaknesses in the sector are not unique to the creative sector and are typical of SMEs elsewhere, for example, capacity and business skills. This fundamental gap was identified across the CEDRA report. There may also be gaps in creative skills, for example, where we want to change the way we do things. There are also gaps in terms of the availability of low-cost workspaces and challenges in terms of networking. Some of the threats are the loss of key skilled people and, perhaps, a policy of focusing on attracting new skills rather than sustaining and encouraging existing skills. Gaps in infrastructure also exist and we also face some of the other issues in terms of SME development, such as funding.
In regard to policy, concern was expressed in the report on the multitude and different sources of support and advice on capacity building. This is not unique to the creative sector.
That was the fundamental point made across the CEDRA report, and the 21st recommendation in that report was the development of a co-ordinated strategy for the creative industries that places a specific focus on potential to contribute to the development of the rural economy, with consideration given to a specific mechanism that combines the creative economy's support competencies with the relevant Departments, many of which have been mentioned, as well as existing lead agencies. In particular, there is the Western Development Commission, the Crafts Council of Ireland, the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board. This should introduce a more integrated approach to funding in line with the overall approach advocated by the commission.
Fundamentally, the challenge in promoting rural economic development highlighted in CEDRA was the lack of co-ordination. There are many institutions involved in supporting sectors but the question remains as to who is choreographing or directing all these different activities in particular directions. In particular, we highlight the gaps within the creative sector.
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
The Western Development Commission, WDC, formally expresses its gratitude to the committee and its members for the invitation today to make a presentation on the creative economy. As my colleagues have already mentioned, we will address some of the national case but, more specifically, the regional case for the creative economy that we have discovered in our work.
As members know, the WDC has a statutory remit to foster and promote economic growth in the seven counties of the west. We have a vision, as expressed in the notes available to members, about making a confident global region and all that pertains to that in the creative economy. However, we are involved with much more than the creative economy. We promote our region to individuals and enterprise globally and we have in excess of 1 million visits to the request website. Through policy, access to finance instruments and innovative development programmes with partners, we have supported 1,899 jobs in recent tough times. As such, we would welcome more time to discuss such issues with committee members under the theme of broader economic development.
There is a question of why we would consider the creative economy, and that has already been addressed by colleagues today. It is globally important and of growing significance to advanced, knowledge-based economies. Equally, for us, it is unique in a regional sense in that it is one of the few industrial sectors where growing thought indicates that jobs tend to follow people in the creative class rather than people following jobs, which has traditionally been the modus operandi. Growing research also demonstrates that regions in particular are well suited to exploit this creative economy due to certain factors inherent within them.
The WDC has mapped, with partners, the creative economy in our region, and that forms much of the discussion today. As has been mentioned, we have engaged with National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Whitaker Institute, Teagasc and others, as well as Oxford Economics. Some of the key findings have been circulated to members. The creative economy in our region is a sector employing almost 11,000 people directly. It is a sector which engages nearly 5,000 businesses and it also earned more than €534 million. It also offers opportunities, and we know there is a very big opportunity now with exports. That line is often trotted out but we have measured it through commissioned work. There is a very low participation rate in exports among creative businesses and the value is very low indeed. As such, that gives us good headroom in which to get products to a global market. As has been mentioned by my colleagues, quality of life is essential to the discussion about the creative economy. It begets success in many other industries and some would argue it is also the seed of innovation, and many of the regions in our country would be eternally grateful if we could move along in that respect.
That, in broad brush strokes, is the case for this being a significant sector. We can consider what we have done in the previous six or seven years. Along with partners such as the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, NUIG and the Whitaker Institute, Teagasc, the local authorities and many others, nationally as well as internationally, we in the WDC and through the good work of my colleague, Ms Pauline White, and others have engaged in trying to have a programme to develop growth areas within the creative economy. We have some ideas on what has worked and what has not.
As members have already heard, we have put in significant effort in the Creative Edge, which has garnered 550 international businesses in the creative economy, allowing them to access global markets. It is a beginning, not an end, but the access is now established. Through another programme, Creative Momentum, we have an international expertise to assist growing in new markets and new product development. For example, Finnish expertise is helping Irish capital to come together for new product development, which is always a good thing. What is important from the point of view of the WDC, given our western investment fund and our background in venture capital, VC, expertise, we have an access to finance instrument, a micro-loan ability up to €25,000. We have earmarked €1 million over three years. That is giving creative economy businesses access to seed capital in terms of export growth.
In total, the Western Development Commission, WDC, with partners, has sourced and is directing almost €4 million of risk capital to this critical sector, €2 million of which is directly in the region. For us, the creative economy is indigenous. It is also immutable in that it is bound within our region. That is really important because it gives different ways in which to tackle the creative economy, both in the urban centres and in the rural centres depending on the regional identity. The simplest way to put it is that people come to my region to be creative because they are inspired by it. They do not want Temple Bar any more. They are looking for other ways in which to create goods and services and we need to get them to the world. We are helping them to try to do that.
I will not go into the reasons the region is so inspiring. We have a lot of data on it, but I will just mention some key points. Galway is a UNESCO designated city of film. Music and literature from the west are famous nationally and internationally. In Yeats we have an iconic poet and in 2015 we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth. This is a national commemoration with which the west is proud to be associated, not just from a commemorative aspect but also from an enterprise and entrepreneurial aspect. We have Aosdána communities and film and audiovisual clusters. We have all the components to make a world class global economy within our region and we believe that it is also the national story. It is not just us. As has been mentioned, the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA, has earmarked the creative economy as one of the areas of diversification in the rural economy. We commend it in that regard and will work with it to achieve that goal. The Action Plan for Jobs, an innovation of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, has earmarked the creative industries for the deepest consideration in terms of support.
In essence, the WDC has sought to showcase innovatively and support this highly indigenous and sustainable sector within our region. The next step in the vision is to grow the sector significantly in the coming years, with product development and exports being the key areas of development. The WDC is working with national, regional and international partners and businesses to implement this using private sector, national and European funding.
To enable this transformation and have the creative economy truly become of global stature, it is essential to evolve the national support narrative to access broader enterprise development programs for the creative economy. It cannot just be grant funded; it needs more sophisticated instruments of support. Due to the highly indigenous, specialised and geographically rooted nature of enterprises in the creative sector, the WDC would strongly recommend consideration of a permanent regional creative sector development function to be established. This would greatly accelerate realisation of a vision to create a global indigenous sector in the west and other regions and realise the revenue opportunities there. Once again, I offer many thanks for the kind invitation and consideration of committee members.
I welcome the three gentlemen to the committee to speak on a very exciting sector of the economy, perhaps one that is not generally discussed although there is an individual focus on it. Mr. Brannigan referred to 11,000 people being employed directly in the creative economy. Would they all respond that they are working in the creative economy or would they say they are working in film, fashion or crafts, for example? Is the term "creative economy" widely used to describe the overall sector?
Reference was also made to the unique potential of the region. In what respects does Mr. Brannigan consider the regions to be unique? He also referred to the Action Plan for Jobs. Does the WDC have a particular role in the Action Plan for Jobs?
Professor O'Donoghue mentioned the CEDRA report, which is very important in this entire area. Does he think it has the potential to deliver or what investment is needed to expand the sector?
Could Dr. Cunningham indicate whether the university courses are geared towards the creative industries? Is there stakeholder engagement in terms of identifying courses, and what courses in particular do NUIG and other universities offer within the sector?
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
I will take the questions in order if that is okay. To answer Deputy Kyne's first question, I do not yet think we are at the point where people feel they are part of the creative economy. He is correct that someone working in the creative economy would consider himself or herself to be a jeweller, craftsperson or potter. That is fine. We do not need to change that. The use of the term "creative economy" is one to use simply from a support and branding point of view, and it is important to be known as a global creative region rather than tinkering with the personality and brand identity of individual producers.
I could go into a lot of detail in terms of unique potential in the region. The approach is twofold. First, the quality of life attracts people to live there. Addressing broadband and access infrastructure allows people to work there. The second thing is that there are specific sectoral issues that are very welcoming to people within certain areas. For example, a lot of world class photographers come to the west. We did a bit of research on NUIG on the reason that was happening. It turns out it is because of the light changes. We always talk about the weather but it means that one photograph can be taken on a given day in several different lighting conditions and it looks good. That is a reason a lot of photographers go there as well as the quality of life.
The last question related to the WDC's role in the Action Plan for Jobs. I am very happy to say that we are very much involved. To date, we have been involved in two to three of the regional workshops with the Minister. We have been fully involved in that process.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
In terms of the CEDRA recommendation, the fundamental objective across sectors is to have improved co-ordination of the instruments of the State to better generate rural economic development. Very often that is a cross-cutting challenge. We organise ourselves within the State in terms of sectors, industries or pillars and whether it be creative industries or rural economic development in general, it is a cross-cutting goal. That is very hard. An outcome of the report was the appointment of the Minister of State, Deputy Ann Phelan, as the Minister of State with responsibility for rural affairs. That is a start in terms of co-ordination. She has established an interdepartmental group where members of a variety of different agencies meet regularly and are preparing an implementation committee. Fundamentally, that is hard. A challenge to the group is the availability of human resources. Perhaps more staff time could be made available to facilitate co-ordination. Many of those involved in the co-ordination of the CEDRA measures have busy jobs and other things to do. It is a challenge to deliver. It is going in the right direction in terms of the structures that are being set up but perhaps more could be done.
Dr. James Cunningham:
In regard to university courses, Dr. Patrick Collins and I mapped the island of Ireland. We identified 385 programmes on offer. Application focuses on music, creative expression and technology. We recommend that could be enhanced and grown. We found a lot of evidence of collaboration with industry partners in terms of students having opportunities to work with creative companies and various businesses. When one looks at our colleagues in Finland and Sweden it is clear that could be even further enhanced. It is necessary to grow the capacity. If the industry is to grow as a whole, we need to ensure there is creative talent in terms of the early stage career graduates but also in terms of people who want to get into the industry in later life or want to change career direction. There is a clear need to retain graduates in order that they could explore the creation of their own business within a university or institute of technology environment, and that they would be supported and mentored in doing that. For example, we looked at the Finnish example of the pro-academy.
They have a different model of education and spend three years working on a business idea. They take some courses and are self-managed and self-taught. They have creative champions who mentor them through that process. These are innovative ideas that could be brought here to expand capacity within the third level sector and support the growth of the sector as a whole.
Dr. James Cunningham:
In our research we found evidence of that happening as part of the creative enterprise projects. There were international teams which interacted with very experienced entrepreneurs in the creative economy from different backgrounds such as film. It is a showcase to show that they are exposed to these role models and can see there is a possibility of creating a business. The evidence is that there is a great deal of this happening in the Irish system; however, it could be enhanced and developed to encourage the young people concerned to start their businesses, perhaps not immediately but later, and create the connections between industry, the university sector and graduates.
The delegates are most welcome, especially because they work on the periphery of the country. I am very impressed by their creative vision, with which I was not familiar. It reminds me of the Kilkenny Design Centre. When it started, it was very sophisticated and there was a Nordic influence on the artists involved. The problem is that the products are not expensive enough for a real business to add value to their basic material. The delegates are pioneers. Do they interact with the local enterprise boards, LEOs? I know from experience that creativity and innovation go nowhere if they do not have that business ability. The LEOs want to develop businesses, for which creativity is critical. It takes innovation to develop a product that is different.
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
Interaction with the LEOs is part of the request to broaden the narrative on supports. The LEOs would love to help us if we could join the dots. We work with local authorities, but we need to work more because we need to broaden the partnership to realise this objective. The LEOs are a very important instrument.
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
Absolutely. If we could work with them in terms of providing guidance and oversight, that would be very effective, but we are not quite at that point. We aspire to reach it, which is why we have made the recommendation to ask the committee to please help us to have that type of influence.
The delegates are very welcome and it has been most interesting to listen to them. Some years ago I was invited to become an adjunct professor of management in NUIG. At the time I asked what the word “adjunct” meant and was told it meant one was not paid. I found it a very interesting and exciting task because the then president of the college said it was concerned about the criticism, a criticism that could be levelled at any institute, that it would become theoretical rather than practical. It wanted to have enough people there who actually had experience of business or creativity. How do the delegates manage to achieve this? How do they manage to coax their clients to meet people who have been in business, worked at it and succeeded, or perhaps failed, but who at least have that experience? Do they not find this difficult?
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
Yes, that is critical. One of the key issues for WDC is market led, taking the jargon away, speaking to the people who are doing it to find out. In this case, what I said in the presentation was that in Creative Edge and the Whitaker Institute, Ms Pauline White and others have managed to get 550 businesses interacting with us so we can survey them and talk to them. This has been the case since the beginning. When we did the original creative west piece of analysis for the 11,000 jobs, we interviewed 350 organisations, some 200 businesses. That was critical to that research being good. It became more econometric analysis as opposed to just market research.
It is critical to talk to the businesses. There is also an issue where we are trying to work with these people to change the mindset. There has been a slight dependency culture over the years within the creative sector. We are talking about loans and financial instruments which are much broader-based but had to change thinking. There is a service shared learning there. It does not succeed every time but we try to feed back in and especially through NUIG and the Whitaker Institute though having engaged with real businesses. We also have international comparators with Finland, Sweden, Northern Ireland and Scotland. One gets a bit kudos from talking about people overseas and sharing that type of knowledge. I guess that is how we get them to engage but engaging with the business is critical to what we have done.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
Teagasc is an applied research and knowledge transfer in education agency primarily focusing on agriculture and the food sector. We have 43,000 fee paying clients and hundreds of food businesses, both SME and large, who are clients. The research and the activities we undertake follow very much what the industry is looking for. We are not just followers, we also try to lead the industry as a development agency. Members of the board are members of the industry. We have stakeholder committees in each of the commodity areas and that defines our programme each year. We are strongly imbedded within the industry with a very practical and applied focus. In terms of our science, really high quality science, we would be comparable to the universities in terms of quality but we work in a narrow area in a specific industry.
I welcome the visitors. In terms of the public mind, generally the small companies get shouldered out of the limelight by the larger ones. When an announcement is being made about multinationals coming in, it is the first items on the news and newspapers and everybody is talking about it but the media tends to ignore the smaller initiatives such as those the representatives are promoting. I am aware they promote all of them but, in general, they get a bad press and do not get the kind of publicity they deserve. If there are ten companies which have five people each employed, that is 50. When all of those are added the figures are significant. There is a disparity of esteem about the operation, status and significance of the smaller companies.
I wish to give one example from my own experience in County Donegal. When Raidió na Gaeltachta was established in the peripheral areas of south west Donegal and north west Donegal, the Irish language was not considered a posh vernacular. Younger people, in particular, were indifferent towards it, despite schools and their best efforts. When Raidió na Gaeltachta was established it had a very significant impact on promoting the language. Once something was on the radio people saw it differently. They heard their tongue being spoken on the radio with very important matters, such as current affairs and sport, being discussed. It changed the psychology of people in the area to the extent that people thought that if the language could become important nationally, other things could be promoted nationally.
I know many younger entrepreneurs who have a great sense of get up and go to do things. Many small companies in the tourism industry organise fishing trips, mountain climbing and other activities using local resources that were underused or perhaps never used properly. The presence of Raidió na Gaeltachta has provided a very strong psychological impulse. Apart from the language, there are other things that are important. In other places such as County Donegal there are small but vibrant and important local industries which together have a great impact. That point struck me when the speakers mentioned that smaller businesses were as important in many ways as larger businesses that were in the limelight.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
One of the objectives of the CEDRA report was to try to shine a light on those sectors that were not as visible, including the SME sector in small and medium-sized towns. In the SME sector there is a substantial number of jobs provided, even more than the number available in the larger business sector. There are as many people living in small and medium-sized towns as there are in the greater Dublin area, but often national policies skim over their importance. To deliver rural economic development one needs to meet the needs of both segments, as stated throughout our report.
Dr. James Cunningham:
To come back to Deputy Michael Conaghan's point, what we have shown for the first time in terms of MyCreativeEdgeis the vibrancy of the creative economy in peripheral regions. There is a need for investment in infrastructure, including theatres, museums and tourist trails. In reference to our colleagues in Northern Ireland, there is a need for creative hubs, places where people can meet in different types of network. My colleague, Dr. Pat Collins, has shown that TG4 has spawned a global audio visual sector that employs in the order of 600 people. It is growing and international in its orientation. What we have found in looking at Finland and Sweden is the importance of the economy, society and culture coming together. These three elements when fused together give long-term sustainability because they are grounded in people's entrepreneurial and creative ability. If it is harnessed and supported in a customised way, depending on the needs of a locality or particular region, it proves to be sustainable. Clearly, in terms of growth rates, this sector is out-performing many others that we think are very successful. There is sustainability and at its heart is uniqueness.
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
My colleagues have covered several of the points raised. Sometimes small is beautiful because, as well as being indigenous and immutable, it is rooted to whatever it is, which is always good. The sector has a really powerful dynamic. People will participate in it for a lot less than they would in others. Speaking plainly, in gross value added, GVA, terms, what they will accept to be involved in this sector is way below what one would normally expect because they want to be involved in it for quality of life reasons, which is fantastic. That means that one can have a vibrant society in a peripheral area because people want to live there and will be happy to accept a salary of €25,000 or €30,000 as opposed to €60,000. That is why some of the projections of 17,000 and 19,000 jobs within ten years seem to be aggressive until one looks at the GVA figures.
They are quite low. It is €24,000 or €25,000. Many of the jobs are seasonal, part-time and lifestyle related. That is the nature of it. It is not any less valuable - small is beautiful - but it sustains a rural and peripheral community at a fraction of the cost of bringing in a large multinational. While a multinational might be a nice solution - and I am not against it having worked for one for 15 years - this is a perfect balance because it achieves the same thing with people who will never leave because they are rooted.
I have been here for four years without getting excited by too many committee meetings, but this is fantastic. It is a very important area. As someone who came home in the 1980s after doing a commerce degree to tell the family I was going to become an actor when most of my friends were working in the fish factory, I can understand exactly what the witnesses are expressing and the type of policy we need to look at.
I knew what I was up to even at that stage. This turns on its head the idea that living in a rural area is a disadvantage. It is a distinct advantage to live in a rural area if one is involved in the creative industries. I found it intriguing that the Irish language was not mentioned until Deputy Conaghan referred to it. I might have missed something at the beginning, however. I see the Irish language as an integral part of the development of the creative industries. A kind of reverse migration can happen with the language. If people can develop their creative industries as Gaeilge initially, it is very easy for them to migrate back to English as we have seen with the likes of Dáthí Ó Sé, Grainne Seoige and the band Altan, all of whom started as Gaeilge but then came back to a much more mainstream audience in the lingua franca of English. We must realise that there is huge potential in training people as Gaeilge who also have very fluent English.
I am also interested in the connections with organisations like Skillnets. Skillnets was utilised very well in the creative industry in Spiddal to do the kind of vocational training creative people wanted. We are talking about training people in the creative industries, but the creative person tends not to like mainstream education. They tend not to want to do degrees. Degrees tend to have an element of homogenisation so that if one sends people to art or drama schools, they tend to come out doing the same type of art or drama, which loses their individualisation. Artists in particular tend to shy away from that type of training, which is why we need a different model when it comes to the creative industries. Skillnets has been utilised quite well, but there are also other options. I would be interested to hear any thoughts the witnesses have on the use of the Creative Europe and Leader programmes to enhance the creative industries in the west.
There are outstanding examples of people who have turned rurality into an advantage. I think of Philip King and his company, South Wind Blows, which is based in west Kerry, the way they produced "Other Voices" and the programmes they did on Irish music. Philip has been very critical recently of the accessibility of broadband technology. Surely, that must be given a bigger priority. If we have a hub or a town where we intend to create one, we must ensure the top level connectivity is available. Where do the witnesses see the hubs being based?
Links with third level are very important. Third level options being available rural areas is also hugely important. If one looks at the furniture college in Letterfrack, one sees a prime example of how one can take a niche course, put it in a rural area and have it create its own dynamic in that it brings people to the area. It is within a community that is in itself very creative. What do the witnesses recommend as regards third level colleges doing that? The trend in the last number of years has been to contract, to pull in from the periphery and to take courses away from those rural areas. For example, there has been a trend in NUIG to pull back on the number of courses that were available part-time and at weekends.
The other tendency of people in the creative industries is to multitask. There are two elements to that. They can multitask in a creative sense by being a writer, artist and filmmaker and do a number of different things. We need to look at a model of supporting them that will allow them to either multitask or specialise in one area. The other classic example of multitasking is where someone who is very good at pottery, for example, also wants to run a business but lacks the business skills.
There is then that innate fear of collaboration with someone who might be more au faitwith business and marketing. How do the witnesses see us overcoming that problem?
The witnesses referred to the area being given a regional status. We know that there is a move within Europe to broaden the labelling idea so that if one gets a wine or cheese from a certain region, a classification is given to it. Is that the type of regional branding the witnesses are thinking of in order that one could get an EU classification as a creative area which would given one a certain kudos? It is something like the UNESCO idea of film in Galway. Is that something that could be looked at?
I was in Denmark quite a few years ago where they had a fantastic concept of the cultural dynamo in one of the folk high schools. The folk high school is like transition year but after school as opposed to in the middle of it. One can do a course in whatever one wants after finishing the equivalent of the leaving certificate. The one I visited was a creative arts school which had dance, theatre, film and music. There was another element in the idea of cultural dynamos. Cultural dynamos are the people who make things happen. They are the people who see opportunities and that there might be funding available. They can access resources and people who can do things, drag them together and push them to do the projects. Do we have anything similar in Ireland where we create these cultural entrepreneurs and dynamos? Is it something we should be thinking about?
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
A couple of things arise. When the Senator mentions the Irish language, I could not agree more. Without judging it in any way, I would add the word "authenticity". When the Senator refers to Philip King, which we have discussed, it screams authenticity. For a creative product, an authentic experience is really important and it is what people pay money for in high-value products. If one is speaking Irish, it is seen as an authentic experience and when it is created in that medium, they see it.
I am sure my learned colleague will have a great deal to say about the issue the Senator raised on third level. We know there is an entrepreneurial deficit in our region, which is due to peripherality and other factors. I would like to see people coming out of the creative courses having an add-on of entrepreneurialism to bridge that pre-mentoring gap where they can apply some business skills to the artistic abilities they have and move it on. That would be great. The Senator mentioned regional status. I had not thought about a UNESCO type thing. While there may be a branding opportunity in the fact that we are located in a region, it is a jump we would not make ham-fistedly. We would like to consider it with everyone.
The Senator referred to multitasking. We have discussed a great deal today the traditional creative sectors. I ask the committee to understand that Minecraft was developed in Umeå, Sweden, by a guy in his bedroom. We think we have those types of break-out capabilities in the west and we are looking at all aspects of it. Dr. Cunningham covered some of the segments. There is creative technology based in some of the urban areas which we consider is very strong and it needs to migrate into the rural areas to a greater extent. Those guys in their bedrooms like GMarsh TV in Claremorris need to get to the world more quickly because they have the product. That is my point.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
In terms of local economic development, we push very much that areas need to work on their unique selling points and to optimise their existing resources. Language is a distinct cultural asset which allows areas to create uniqueness and develop niche economic opportunities. The Senator mentioned access to education. One of our core recommendations and focuses was on the delivery of greater skills training within rural areas, perhaps tapping into some of the infrastructure that exists in the education and training boards and old VECs nationally with high-speed broadband. Links might be built to the institutes of technology to have more remote access without having to construct huge scale facilities in remoter areas.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh made a point about multitasking. From our point of view in Teagasc, about two thirds of farmers require off-farm employment to maintain a viable household. Therefore, businesses like the creative sector, which can provide part-time niche employment, are important in balancing the household budget.
As regards the Leader programme, the uniqueness and niche dimension to businesses within the creative sector are consistent with the goals of Leader funding whereby they should not duplicate or compete against existing money. Therefore, there would be opportunities in terms of attracting funding from that source.
Dr. James Cunningham:
I will address the Senator's point concerning the role of third level institutions. From our research in Finland and other countries, we have been looking at new modes of delivery, including shorter courses which are more tailored and focused. In my presentation I mentioned the pro-academy model in Finland. As the Senator rightly pointed out, creatives do not really like to do a lot of courses in the traditional structure. They have an opportunity to work on a business idea. If a person wants to learn something, someone in the group takes a lead. That model is innovative and could be used in an Irish context.
Professor O'Donoghue's point was about utilising the existing infrastructure in new and innovative ways. The creative hubs idea in Sweden, which has also been piloted in Northern Ireland, is about getting people to meet and interact in different places, both formally and informally.
Like any sector, business skills are required at the early start-up stage to understand the marketplace. Skills are also required as one is scaling, growing and internationalising a business. There is a real need to support that. In addition, the uniqueness of individual creativity needs to be protected as well as building the business acumen by bringing new people into the business from other sectors.
Cultural dynamos are critically important. In public or self-organised community spaces, people examine how to create different networks connecting people formally and informally. This is where new ideas are generated. In my own experience, I have found that there is a willingness to learn and be open to new ideas in the creative sector. In some ways, it operates formally, while also maintaining the informality and freedom of the sector.
I apologise for being late. I welcome the witnesses. What would they like to see with regard to the forthcoming spatial strategy? The fear is that one wants to appease everyone, so what are their views on creating specific industrial and service clusters, particularly in the west? For example, areas like Castlebar and Letterkenny could be focused on where there will be a greater impact from the spillover of benefits for the region. The concern would be whether balanced regional development means that everyone has to gain from it. How do we maximise our resources with regard to this regional spread, to ensure it benefits the regions?
Galway is bidding to be the Capital of Culture 2020. Do the witnesses have an input into that process? Perhaps they can outline the potential of that for Galway and the western region generally.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
I can give feedback on the first element in terms of the spatial strategy. It is not specifically tied to the creative industry, but the view of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA, is that the strategy was relatively weak on areas outside hubs and gateways. It was strong on growth centres, but many people are living in small or medium-sized towns and wider rural areas. One of the reasons for the establishment of CEDRA, and the preparation of the report, was the weakness in many of our policies on those dimensions, so a stronger focus is required.
Recognising that while economic growth may occur naturally, particularly in growth poles like the cities, people choose with their feet, and over the past decade, substantial numbers of them have moved out of cities into towns. They live there and so our strategy needs to reflect those needs. They are relatively young people, often with negative equity. These towns and surrounding areas have issues that will exist into the future with varying opportunities and challenges. It is important for the national spatial strategy to recognise those differences.
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
I will address Senator Naughton's question first. As I said earlier, we did cover one of the aspects of why we are pushing forward the creative economy regionally as well as nationally. The narrative is that there are people there who attract jobs because of their creative ability. They are in the region for their own choice so they will not go elsewhere. That is a great example of what the WDC and regional development do. We are not interested in dividing up some sort of pie. We are genuinely interested in the national well-being. That is why we want to find sectors where we have international competitiveness. The dumb question is, do we want to be internationally competitive as a country? If so, we have to pick our strengths. Renewable energy is a great example because we are not going to put up 1,000 turbines anywhere to generate gigawatts. It thus becomes a question that if one chooses to do so, one chooses to do it in certain areas where there are good natural resources. In the creative economy we have a strong international sector. This is not balanced regional development, it is sensible economic development. That is a really important thing to understand. I would not be qualified to discuss another aspect.
The clustering effect has to happen, rather than it being forced. Michael Porter's strategy is great but I worked it for 15 years and one must spend an awful lot of money to make it happen. There are natural places in rural areas which allow agglomeration effects for clusters, that is, where people can go to meet. That is important.
With the committee's permission, I will spend a second on Galway's bid to be Capital of Culture. It is a wonderful idea. Our region benefits from having one of the most exciting micro-cities in the world. It can only benefit the national cause to have such a bid. I saw the Volvo Ocean Race there and they still rant about the welcome they received and what it did for Ireland. That is exactly the effect we would always like to see from a City of Culture bid.
Is Mr. Brannigan part of that process? Does he have an input to the city and county councils with regard to that bid? Is that on the cards, how best to pitch it? Other cities will also be bidding for it, so is that a conflict?
Dr. James Cunningham:
To answer the Senator's question, my colleague, Dr. Patrick Collins who is seated in the Visitors Gallery, is leading for NUI Galway. Dr. Collins and his team are involved in extensive consultations and stakeholder engagements. It is unearthing the potentiality, diversity and international strength that Galway has. That is not only in terms of our empirical research but also regarding the imagination and ideas that are coming forward. In addition, there is the importance of culture, language, place and the uniqueness of Galway, building on the success of 83 festivals per year that are generating huge economic activity and benefiting the city.
When Galway is successful, it will shine a justifiable light on Ireland's international position in this economy. It is unique in terms of the environment and the imagination that Dr. Collins and his team can bring in working with the stakeholders, including the local authorities. That can create an imaginative and innovative process that will bring a legacy to support individual companies as well as growing the economy internationally. Hopefully it will have a legacy effect beyond the bid itself.
Before we finish this engagement I have a couple of questions to put to Dr. Cunningham.
I am very interested in the directory MyCreativeEdge. It is a terrific idea. Should there be a national directory?
I heard Mr. Phil Coulter make a presentation at another committee on which I sat prior to this one. He said that if he was starting now, he would not attain the same success, nationally or globally, because there are no policies on promoting Irish performers on national radio and television in terms of air play. Several artists are associated with that view and feel strongly about the issue. Would Dr. Cunningham research it? His comments on work placements linking creative graduates with industry are excellent.
Does Professor O’Donoghue have any view on how we might incorporate business skills for young people? They need to think of themselves as being self-employed because they are part of the small and medium enterprise, SME, sector, although they may not think they are. Much of their employment will be contract work and they will go back on social benefits when a contract ends. Is there sufficient expertise in the LEOs to recognise the potential business of a young person? Much of it comes from courses and taps into technology that is moving so rapidly that people may not recognise the potential when, for example, a girl or a boy designs something like Minecraft or writes Game of Thrones. They have the potential and the capacity to do something fantastic. Are we missing out by not recognising it?
Mr. Brannigan’s point that jobs follow people in the creative class is well made and puts the matter in perspective. How can we get away from the impression that many people graduating have that they must work for nothing for a long time? They sign on and then have to try to find some work on a film or here, there and everywhere to build a CV. There is no other sector in which a young graduate who has worked hard for three or four years is expected to work for nothing. That is particularly evident in the creative industries and the technology sector.
Do any of the delegates have an input into developing the third level curriculum? Have they fed any of their findings on linking industry into the process?
Mr. Ian Brannigan:
The LEOs do not yet have the required expertise, for the reasons mentioned by the Chairman. It is a fast moving, diverse sector. We have noticed in counties Mayo, Sligo and Galway that there is almost an underground aspect to much of this, especially among young people. My colleague, Ms White, recently attended the Rough Draft festival, although that is the wrong word for it. Many creative technology people come together at their own cost to discuss how to improve their businesses.
At the first festival I attended two years ago there were 200 present and I was the only person from the public sector in the room and they would not let me speak. They were, in effect, 200 micro-businesses. That is the level of knowledge available, which one cannot read in a book. As Senator Feargal Quinn said, one has to engage with them. That is one of the reasons I would like to see a regional aspect to enable people to develop these links directly with the client base.
It would help them to build it up and LEOs and others to channel support to them.
On the impression that they must work for nothing, it is a question of making it a viable career. The rewards are huge. Our research has shown specifically that many salaries are lower because they are lifestyle-based or seasonal. There is an acceptance of this and it allows people to work on the periphery. There is no doubt that in some cases it is an apprenticeship. That is why we would like to see a greater awareness of the career path in these emerging sectors to make entrepreneurial skills more apparent in order that people will work more for themselves and in that way develop self-worth in order that they will not feel they are being exploited in some way, while still learning the skills because ultimately it is their business.
Professor Cathal O'Donoghue:
In terms of capacity building for business and financial skills, I came from a meeting this morning at which we focused on these issues within the farming sector. They are exactly the same as in the wider SME and creative sectors. There is a need and whether it be in farming, business or the creative sector, it is becoming more complicated to exist, survive and thrive in the business environment which is more complicated and volatile. To be successful, it is important to be a manager, as well as an expert in whatever the business is. While we recognise the need, there is no demand. Almost the first stage in getting people to engage with the tools and supports is to create awareness and a demand. We are working with 22 partners across agri-business, banking and farm organisations to try to create this awareness. I imagine a similar approach would be useful in other sectors such as the creative sector.
I am not an expert on the skills set of the LEOs. It was a view of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA, that, while it supported the LEOs as development organisations, they needed to be proactive rather than passive. The one-stop shop idea is that people come to them, but as a development agency, it needs to get out there and where there is a need but not necessarily a demand, push it to get people to demand what they need, even if they are not aware they need it.
Dr. James Cunningham:
MyCreativeEdgecould be scaled up. It fills a real need because many of these creative industries do not have the expertise required. It allows them to create an international showcase for their activities. It is good for business to business connections, if they are looking for someone to help them in that respect.
In response to the comment made by Mr. Phil Coulter and in regard to the Irish language, we can learn a lot from the French film production sector which has grown while maintaining the French language. We need to equip Irish graduates to use new media to distribute their products and ideas more effectively, be it through Spotify or whatever else.
As for the workplace issue, our first hand experience in MyCreativeEdgeis that it has a significant positive effect because students understand the business requirements of the business with which they deal. They have to marry them with their creative talents, do it within a timeframe and put an economic value on their talent and decide how much they will charge for it. Developing it at an early stage in their formation and building on it with good support is critical.
In response to the question about working for nothing, there is a case for the industry to create sustainable career paths at an early stage of formation to make it as attractive as engineering or other sectors which have done a lot to support career development. They articulate to people considering entering the industry at an early or late stage that there is a viable, interesting and dynamic career available.
I remind members, visitors and those in the Public Gallery to ensure their mobile phones are switched off for the duration of this meeting as they interfere with the broadcasting equipment, even when in silent mode. We will continue our discussion on the potential for job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative economy with our guests, Ms Louise Allen, head of innovation and development at the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir, director general of TG4.
Before we commence, I wish to advise that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I remind our guests that their presentations should be no more than five minutes in duration as members have already been given copies of the presentations they submitted. I invite Ms Louise Allen to make her presentation to the committee.
Ms Louise Allen:
I thank the committee for the invitation to make this presentation. I am delighted to be here. I will quickly flick through various images on the screen which come from an exhibition which just closed in Milan on Sunday. They will give members a flavour of the potential of the creative economy for our emerging and established design community.
The potential of the creative industries cannot be underestimated in terms of its impact as a catalyst for radical change. Design, creativity and innovation are intrinsic to the future growth of Ireland's economy. In the same way that Ireland has excelled in developing the agricultural, pharmaceutical and technology sectors, this is the moment to utilise the creative industries as a platform and tool for growth, innovation and economic development. To do this, appropriate infrastructure and supports are required.
My role as the head of international programmes for Irish Design 2015, ID2015, and as head of innovation with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland has provided specific insights into the needs of these sectors. ID2015 is a year-long initiative backed by the Government exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design throughout Ireland and internationally to drive job creation, grow exports and increase competitiveness. The programme for the year includes presenting the work of Irish designers at high-profile events in design capitals including London, Paris, Eindhoven, Milan, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong/Shenzhen. ID2015 is being convened by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, in collaboration with partner organisations on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise Ireland. It is an ambitious programme with more than 300 national and 50 international events throughout the year that aims to create 1,800 jobs over three years; generate an additional €10 million in design-based exports; generate 200 new design business start-ups; facilitate 300 companies to attend international trade events; engage with an audience in excess of 3 million; and develop a national design centre.
The ID2015 programme is a significant undertaking and represents the start of a journey to position Ireland at the leading edge of design collaboration, integration and innovation. To ensure its success and that of the creative industries as a whole, a long-term, strategic view from economic and cultural perspectives is required. The broad spectrum of design disciplines represented by ID2015 includes, but is not limited to, architecture and the built environment, film animation and motion design; food design; furniture design; gaming, product and industrial design, textile design; crafts; fashion; and web interface and digital design
ID2015 has identified key strategic enablers that could be applied to the creative industries sector as a whole to drive job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative economy. These can be listed under the following headings: education, enterprise and innovation; communication and promotion; legacy, infrastructure and disruptive reform; and commercialisation and internationalisation. In terms of the first heading, the development and implementation of an education and enterprise model in collaboration with all major third level institutions to develop a strategy that provides tools for creative industries students and graduates to become entrepreneurs with the capacity to trade internationally is recommended. This can be achieved through tailored programs delivered in partnership with the network of local enterprise offices, LEOs, and incubation centres throughout the country or through new models based on international exemplars such as NeueHouse in the US directed by James Reilly or Highway1 set up by Liam Casey of PCH.
To foster innovation across an integrated eco-system of creative industries, the parameters for innovation vouchers or similar incentivised funding should be broadened to enable B2B innovation across multiple sectors. An innovation brokerage system should be established to pair companies and assist in the development of strategies and relationships to realise innovative products and services.
To realise significant growth in exports, small and medium enterprises, SMEs, and creative industries need to have access to international markets. Sustained investment to enable participation in international events such as design weeks, fashion weeks and architecture biennales,as well as access to funding to attend trade events for creative industries, must be maintained and further developed.
Raising awareness of the quality and innovative nature of the creative industries is key. Coverage in high profile international media enhances and elevates the international perception of Ireland and our design, innovation and technical abilities.
To ensure sustained growth and development of the sector, a level of infrastructural supports is required. They include a benchmarking of the creative industries sector as a whole. The Western Development Commission has done a substantial amount of work in that area in the western region. We also need engagement on an inter-agency and interdepartmental basis to maximise resources and strategic development of the creative sectors. Access to investment for the creative industries through grant aid or venture capital funding is key. The development of projects and programmes that integrate design thinking solutions across the business and community sectors to drive efficiencies and provide a platform for new systems to emerge is important. The development of design hubs or creative industries hubs to encourage networking, collaboration and the sharing of skills, ideas and expertise is recommended. The launch of a Made in Ireland campaign and a strategy of supports based on models in the United Kingdom and the USA would increase the capability of Irish manufacturers and bring visibility to the types of product available in Ireland. The creation of a creative industries policy and a future strategy for Ireland is extremely important also.
I will give a sense of the impact cross-sectoral collaboration can have, especially when coupled with international exposure. As I said, I have just returned from Milan where we opened Liminal Irish design at the threshold. It represented over 20 Irish designers and design companies. It was the first time in 50 years that we had this kind of international exposure and representation. The level of innovation and resulting products from this initiative were significant. For example, companies such as Thomas Montgomery, a small furniture manufacturer based in Bray, partnered Perch Design Solutions which is based in Dublin and they launched a product called FLOAT, an integrated system for seating in office environments. It integrates both social and work-based interactions. I asked Mr. Stuart Montgomery, its chief executive officer, his impressions of attending the show. In terms of interest, he had received 45 concrete leads and interest from global design brands such as Labofa in Denmark, Kloebar in Germany, Vanerum in Belgium and FASB in Italy, which are interested in either tertiary exclusivity of his product or developing licensing agreements. That is the result of just one representation on an international platform.
Another example is Design Partners that has worked with an American company, Seed Labs Inc. They are exploring the smart home market to uncover and deliver the potential of its technology and brand. Seed Labs Inc. developed pioneering Bluetooth and connected solutions technology through its own software, protocols and chips. Design Partners has helped it to translate them into a brand, an experience and product design language in the design of all their products. Working closely with Seed Labs Inc., it launched its first control device, Silvair, in Milan in April and it is just about to launch in the United States. That is important because these companies are positioning themselves at the forefront in shaping the future of connected and integrated devices.
Enabling these collaborations allows true innovation to take place. Supporting and promoting collaboration across sectors and disciplines will enable more intuitive, responsive, user centred smart design products and services to emerge. Ireland has an incredible opportunity to merge our assets, technologically, scientifically and creatively, with the creative industries. Based on research being undertaken as part of Irish Design 2015, we have the opportunity to develop and support a defined policy and a strategic plan for investment in the design and creative industries for the future.
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Gabhaim mo bhuíochas leis an gcoiste as ucht an deis a thabhairt dúinn teacht anseo inniu agus an cur i láthair a dhéanamh. Is craoltóir náisiúnta seirbhíse poiblí é TG4. Tá ár gcláracha le feiceáil ar fud na tíre agus ar fud an domhain ar Sheinnteoir TG4. Tá muid lonnaithe i mBaile na hAbhann i gContae na Gaillimhe.
TG4 was established in 1996 as a public service broadcasting initiative to promote the Irish language and culture, raise the profile of the language as part of the Government’s wish to create a bilingual society and normalise its use.
TG4 operates as a publisher-broadcaster. We source most of our Irish language programmes from Ireland's independent production sector. Through this and through all of the other services we buy from the Irish creative sector, such as marketing, digitisation, software and hardware, music, etc., we have a significant impact on jobs in the economy, innovation levels and Ireland's economic development.
TG4 has commissioned Irish language content from more than 100 independent production companies in Ireland. Most of these are small to medium-sized enterprises. We have particularly focused on sourcing content from companies which operate through the Irish language, and many of these are located in Gaeltacht and regional areas, thus bringing significant social and cultural benefits to these rural communities with the high-skill employment they sustain.
TG4 is committed to investment in high-quality original Irish language content produced by the independent production sector in Ireland. We spend over 90% of our programme budget with this sector annually. In 2014, we purchased €22 million worth of Irish language programmes and services from the sector and a priority of our strategy is to grow this spend in future years.
TG4 also places an emphasis on nurturing talent in the Irish language creative economy through our development programmes which support first-time producers, directors and writers in the Irish language. This is done through initiatives such as the provision of training courses for Irish language producers, writers and directors and support for media courses in universities and institutes of technology.
IBEC's Audiovisual Federation research on the Irish film and television industry shows that in excess of 300 highly skilled and creative full-time jobs in the film and production sector are directly sustained by TG4 commissions on an annual basis. TG4's Irish language soap, "Ros na Rún", now in its 20th year of production, creates a significant level of direct employment and contracted personnel in the local economy.
Through our work with the independent production sector in Ireland, TG4 also helps to develop the capabilities of the companies and individual talent with whom we work. By investing in skills and training, services and technology systems and approaches, and by working to defined standards, the capabilities of the production and creative sector in Ireland are continually enhanced. We also help to raise finance for the independent production sector through working with it to help it secure sound and vision funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, funding from the Irish language broadcast fund and European media programme in addition to helping them work with international co-production partners such as European broadcasters.
The effect of TG4's expenditure every year extends beyond the first round of our purchases such as content or marketing services as additional economic value is created further down the supply chain and in other markets. Thus the effect of TG4's spending is multiplied as it trickles down through the economy. The multiplier effect of TG4's expenditure, direct and indirect, in terms of contribution to Ireland's national earnings was €74 million in 2014 with an employment impact of 1,150 jobs, including production sector jobs. This reflects the level of TG4 expenditure in Ireland on indigenous programming and creative services rather than on purchasing these from international markets. For every €1 invested by TG4 in the creative industries in Ireland, it was worth more than €2 to the economy of Ireland in 2014.
The creative industries combine conventional cultural industries, for example, film and television, publishing and advertising, with digital media, software and technology sectors. Much is based on intellectual property, and the fast-changing nature of the creative economy generates many opportunities. If the global creative economy was a country, it would be equivalent to being the fourth largest economy in the world, and it would have the fourth largest labour force with 144 million workers.
Research from Nesta also shows that creative industries rely much less on imports than manufacturing sectors. The commissioning of programmes from the independent production sector and services we source from other sectors will continue to support a vibrant and creative production sector in Ireland, the Gaeltacht and other regional areas outside Dublin in particular.
Looking ahead for TG4, we are seeking to grow our contribution to job creation, innovation and economic development in the creative economy. We aim to maximise the share of our public funding which we spend on Irish language content. We also aim to continue to spend most of our programming budget with the independent production sector rather than purchasing content from international markets. This will provide for investment in the creative sector and job creation. TG4 is establishing a digital Irish language archive, sourcing systems, digitisation, archiving and other Irish language creative services as part of this important project. Since the beginning of 2015, with the assistance of grant-in-aid from the BAI, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, TG4 has indirectly employed five people with language and IT skills to archive and catalogue its Irish language content.
These activities and many others will continue to sustain jobs and support the development of additional jobs, drive innovation and growth in the creative economy. Our funding must be sustained to enable us to continue to make this valuable contribution.
I extend congratulations to all of the delegations. It seems there is a great deal going on about which we did not really know enough. I would love to hear more about the attendance at events during Milan Design Week. Why is it no one got there during the past 50 years? If the recent attendance was such a success, we should be doing more of this. Who are the design sector’s competitors? How will it overcome this competition?
The challenges TG4 faces are different from the ones faced by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. If both delegations met a leprechaun on the side of the road and he offered them a crock of gold, for what would they use it?
Ms Louise Allen:
Milan Design Week is the trendsetter, the first such event that happens worldwide and it is followed in quick succession by the events in New York, London and Eindhoven. It sets the frame for what is emerging on a global scale. Why had we not been there before? There was a focus on the design sector in the time of the Kilkenny Design Workshops. It has not been focused on as much in the recent past, which is one of the reasons the Irish Design 2015 initiative is critically important. We are delighted that it is being supported significantly by the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Foreign Affairs and Trade.
We are competing globally. The challenges for Ireland involve cost competitiveness, economies of scale and how small businesses can make the leap from employing perhaps six to eight people to a growth trajectory and strategy. From our first-hand experience in Milan, we know that the quality and innovation of what we produce are on a par with what is produced by our international competitors. During Milan Design Week we were in the Zona Tortona, one of the first established districts outside the Salone del Mobile Milan. Ireland's exhibition was selected as one of the top three in the district, competing against hundreds of other exhibitors. I hope we will be back in Milan.
As for what I would wish to be given by the leprechaun on the side of the road, we have started on an incredibly exciting, dynamic and positive journey which will lead to significant growth in Ireland’s economy and design community.
What could go wrong is if that ambition, as well as the level of investment and commitment to this initiative, were stopped before it could get off the ground. I would like to see a long-term strategy for the development of the sector.
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Our operation has four main elements, namely, our funding, the production sector, good programmes and the viewers. If we had more money, we could invest in the independent production sector to produce more programmes. We would then have more original Irish language content for viewers who would be entertained and educated. I hope it would also increase our viewership. It is, in a sense, a revolving door, whereby we need to grow funding and then the sector in every part of Ireland, to have more and better quality programmes and increase our viewership.
Cuirim fáilte roimh Ms Louise Allen agus Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir go dtí an comhchoiste seo. Déanann TG4 sár-jab ar son na Gaeilge agus ó thaobh chuidiú le postanna a chruthú san earnáil cultúrtha agus creativity. Dúirt Mr. Ó Gallchóir go gcaitheann TG4 90% den bhuiséad ar chláracha ard-chaighdeán de chuid chomhlachtaí Éireannacha agus go gcothaíonn TG4 an tallann atá againn inniu. An bhfuil TG4 sásta go bhfuil fás ann san earnáil agus go bhfuil TG4 in ann teacht ar an tallann, i gConamara go mór-mhór ach ar fud na tíre freisin?
TG4 employs five people in an archiving project. Is there any collaboration on it with NUIG, National University of Ireland, Galway? I know that Taisclann Dhigiteach na hÉireann, the Digital Repository of Ireland, also makes a certain amount of recordings. Is there any collaboration with it?
Ms Lelia Doolan has done a lot of work in securing for Galway the first Irish city of film designation from UNESCO when developing its creative cities network. Is there any role for TG4 in this regard? Outside Dublin and County Wicklow, Galway has the highest level of film and TV productions. Obviously, we want to see this expand. There was a request recently from Danú Media in Inverin to Galway City and County Councils to use Galway Airport’s hangars as studios. Will Mr. Ó Gallchóir comment on this?
Irish Design 2015 is part of An Action Plan for Jobs with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. How is it going? Do design courses include entrepreneurial modules?
Ms Louise Allen referred to design hubs. Are these physical centres or is it more of a collaboration? She also mentioned that it was important for Irish designs to receive coverage in high quality and high profile international media. Obviously, the recent trip to Milan would have helped in that regard. How is this to be achieved?
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Mar a dúirt mé, tá an earnáil neamhspleách an-tábhachtach ar fad agus tá gach iarracht á dhéanamh againn go mbeadh comhlachtaí agus daoine fostaithe againn ar fud na tíre. Creidim an príomhrud ná go bhfuil gá go bhfuil rialtacht ann. Bíonn daoine ag súil le hobair leanúnach. Caithfimid déanamh comhoibriú leis an earnáil lena chinntiú go bhfuil obair leanúnach ann do chomhlachtaí. Cé comhlachtaí an-bheag nó níos mó atá i gceist, caithfimid cinntiú go bhfuil obair léanúnach acu ó chinn cinn na bliana. Oibrímid go maith leis na gcomhlachtaí i ngach áit ar fud na tíre, ach tá an Ghaeltacht an-tábhachtach dúinn, ceantar Chonamara ina measc, agus tá comhlachtaí agus tionscail an-mhaith againn.
On the archiving scheme, we are in collaboration with the National University of Ireland Galway, NUIG, especially its centre in Carna, the representatives of which serve on our steering committee and advise us on our application, as well as the archiving scheme that started five or six weeks ago.
On the UNESCO city of film status and the Galway capital of culture initiative, we were involved in the effort to make Galway the capital of film last year and serve on the steering committee for the initiative Galway capital of culture. The greater the number of people involved in the arts, film, drama, acting, writing, camera work and so forth the stronger the sector will be and this will benefit TG4.
On the location of a new studio in Galway city, the more studio locations we have the better it will be for TG4, County Galway and the city in general. We have Studio Telegael in Baile na hAbhann. A new location in Carnmore would help to attract investment and production to the west and Galway in general.
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Táimid ag comhoibriú leis an méid Ranna gur féidir linn agus cuirfimid gach tacaíocht ar fáil ó thaobh cistí ar nós an Irish Language Broadcast Fund, ILBF, agus an Sound and Vision fund. Tá cistí eile ann san Eoraip. Nuair atá comhlachtaí ag lorg airgid idirnáisiúnta, whether it be co-productions with the BBC, BBC Alba, S4C or other European production companies or houses, we will co-operate with them. If the sector is strong, TG4 will remain strong, whereas, as a publisher-broadcaster, if the sector is weak, we will not have a programme supply and will become a weak station.
Ms Louise Allen:
Deputy Seán Kyne asked a number of questions. Irish Design 2015 has received a very positive response from the sector which views the initiative as very encouraging and one which should be sustained. We have run a series of open calls, which has provided a level of funding directly to the designers and design companies. More than 130 individuals and design companies have received funding through the initiative. We also had an open call for an international trade fund, which provides a level of matching funding to enable applicants to attend relevant trade events internationally.
We have just submitted our first quarterly report which shows that we had more than 50 designers at international events. Alongside the event in Milan, we had a presence during London Fashion Week, which showcased emerging Irish fashion designers, and 21 designers at the Maison & Objet trade fair in January. We launched the year with Showcase, our international trade show. We were delighted to bring the exhibition, Weathering, to Beijing during the President's visit to China in December. As a result, we saw a significant increase in the number of Chinese buyers visiting Ireland for the Showcase trade event, which was extremely positive.
On the international element of the programme, we have received considerable support from the embassy network abroad. We are working with more than 25 embassies and touring a capsule exhibition that is also linking with some of the trade missions taking place in 2015. This is a significant and positive development.
On the design courses available in Ireland, when I graduated from the National College of Art and Design, the entrepreneurial and business side was not a core component of courses. As I stated, we are actively working with the institutes of technology and universities to roll out a programme in this regard in September as part of the new curriculum. We will also develop a design education programme to encourage entrepreneurial activity at second level and this will feed into the programme at third level.
In terms of design hubs, they can be both physical and virtual and both have benefits. There are examples in Ireland such as the Fumbally Exchange where a number of creatives are housed under one roof and able to share experience and expertise. This model has proved to be highly beneficial. NeueHouse, the model I mentioned in New York, houses a number of companies and provides flexible co-working spaces. It serves as a very efficient recruiting mechanism for creatives for technology companies in New York city. It is very important to have some element of this here and linkages between Ireland and other countries such as the United States.
In terms of the profile in the media, first and foremost, we need to be present at events to secure coverage. We need to make the best representation possible in terms of quality, innovation and the type of product we choose. It is also a matter of building relationships and partnerships, which are core elements of Irish Design 2015. Internationally, we have developed very significant relationships with institutions such as the British Council, the Design Council in the United Kingdom and the V&A where we will have a significant intervention later in the year. We have also established links in New York, for example, with the director of the Museum of Arts and Design and Paola Antonelli in MoMA. All of the relationships and partnerships we build make a major difference in terms of the type and level of profile Ireland enjoys and the and way in which it is perceived.
I welcome our guests. I watch TG4 much more often that I initially thought I would because it is a highly engaging channel. While I do not understand much of the vernacular, the reason I watch so many TG4 programmes is that their content is strongly visual. The channel has brought a new eye and ear to matters of Irish interest which many of the other broadcasters have never captured or did not believe were worth exploring. For example, one would not expect a programme on labourers in England, principally ordinary men who were working in tunnels and on roads, to be very engaging. However, the human side of the story penetrates and makes the programme very engaging. While I did that type of work for a long time, my wife, who is a great follower of TG4, never worked as a labourer. She likes the channel because it takes ordinary things and makes them extraordinary, appealing and engaging and she and I have both become regular viewers.
As well as Irish labourers working in Britain, TG4 addresses the issue of emigration generally, including to America. It does not always focus on those who have made it big, earned a great deal of money and returned to show off their success in Galway or Donegal but addresses topics that have been neglected and aspects of the experience of Irish people in America that are not normally explored. One of its strengths is that it shows the fate of emigrants and features strong human interest stories and other issues that remained unexplored until now.
TG4 also features little corners of Ireland that have been neglected or that people have never bothered about. Its programme makers go to these places to build a story of the area, perhaps using as a focal point a river and its salmon or trout fishing or the scenic value of a waterway or mountainous area. It is amazing how engaging such programmes can become simply through their visual impact and the personality and sound of a landscape or river. The story lines are frequently simple but profound in that they have a hidden quality which engages those who are willing to be engaged, as more and more people are. Ordinary topics have become extraordinary and TG4 explores rich seams of the human experience of Irish people in different settings, contexts and spheres which mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC and RTE do not consider to be sufficiently interesting.
The interest is there, if it can be found and presented.
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Apart from the use of the Irish language, we will make every effort to maximise our audience and to welcome people to TG4. We will do this by being a strong visual channel and by subtitling most of the content. In those ways we try to maximise our audience and try to create a bilingual society and normalise the use of the Irish language.
I accept the points made in regard to emigrants and the United States. Recently we did a lovely programme on the tunnel tigers, those who spent years in the tunnels in London and elsewhere in Britain. Also, a production company in Carna, Sónta, did a four part series, "GAA USA" on the history of the GAA in the United States, which covered from before the GAA was established to the present day and looked at its future there. Another nostalgic programme was made by Bob Quinn from Connemara, a lovely programme on the Galtymore ballroom.
One of the reasons we have managed to touch base with rural and other parts of Ireland is that we are a publisher broadcaster. Therefore, we take most of our programmes from companies that are mostly based in their own localities and which mirror their own society. In a sense, we have approximately 100 small companies scattered and dotted throughout Ireland supplying programmes and mirroring Irish life of days gone by and present day Ireland.
Ms Louise Allen:
I wish to make a quick point regarding labourers in the UK. An initiative of Irish Design 2015 and the Irish Architecture Foundation is to develop a series of talks entitled "We Built this City". This programme looks back at how Irish labourers contributed to building the fabric of so many cities worldwide. My colleague, Karen Hennessy, met with Members of the Houses of Parliament whose parents and grandparents had contributed to building the fabric of London and they are interested in hosting an exhibition there. Similarly, in New York and Chicago there are stories we hope to be able to tell and communicate.
On emigration, we have a richness in terms of our diaspora, with over 80 million of us worldwide. This is evident when attending international events. We intend to launch an initiative known as the global Irish design challenge, to challenge designers worldwide to present us with their vision for a future Ireland and for a future strategy for Ireland.
The work being done by Ms Allen is fascinating and I commend her on the publicity it is getting. I have passed through the airport a couple of times recently and have seen the picture montages there that give a sense of what is going on in Irish Design 2015. I would not be as au fait with design as others. We know a little about fashion designers, such as John Rocha, Louise Kennedy, Orla Kiely and Lainey Keogh and from the Connemara perspective, Cniotáil Inis Meáin, seems to have done very well on the international market. Philip Treacy is another Galway designer. However, in other areas of design mentioned, such as architecture, I am not as au faitwith designers. How do we compare internationally in those other areas? We are not in the same league as Milan, but would we be in the premier league or are we somewhere down in the third or fourth division internationally? What do we need to do to bring ourselves up? I am not necessarily concerned that individual designers be there, but that there should be awareness of their work. How can we promote them more?
I am also conscious that many of our designers are members of the diaspora. Do we have a brain-drain scenario in this regard? If a person wants to make it as a designer, must he or she go abroad, to London, New York, Paris or wherever? What can we do to counteract that and how can technology help us in regard to better connectivity? Where are the gaps at third level when it comes to training and education for this area? Previous speakers suggested we lack policy in the creative industry area.
From a policy perspective, what gaps do the witnesses see that we as legislators need to examine?
Ó thaobh TG4 de agus níl aon dabht faoi, táim anseo le ceithre bliana agus níor chuala mé aon duine ag cáineadh TG4 ó tháinig mé anseo. Chuala mé neart cáineadh faoi na craoltóirí eile ach níor chuala mé droch-fhocal faoi TG4. Is moladh an-mhór é sin faoi pé atá i TG4 agus na dreamanna atá ag obair ar na cláracha ar fad. Tá an-tábhacht leis an tionscadal seo. Níl fios agam an dtuigeann daoine sa tír seo cé chomh tábhachtach is atá sé go bhfuil na comhlachtaí fréamhaithe sna ceantair. Déantar cáineadh sna Gaeltachtaí, ar ndóigh, ó am go chéile, nach mbíonn na comhlachtaí ar fad ag feidhmiú trí mheán na Gaeilge. Tá na cláracha a chraoltar trí mhéan na Gaeilge ach tá go leor Béarlóirí ag obair taobh thiar de na scenes, mar a dearfá. An féidir linn aon rud eile a dhéanamh le feabhas a chur ar sin?
Pointe mór eile ná an titim nó an meath atá ag teacht ar an nGaeilge sa Ghaeltacht. An mbeimid ag rith amach as daoine le Gaeilge gur féidir leo oibriú ar na cláracha mar láithreoirí, scríobhneoirí agus mar sin de? Cén ról a fheiceann na finnéithe do TG4 ó thaobh an Straitéis 20 Bliain agus ó thaobh an Ghaeilge sa phobal.
Sílim gur chóir aitheantas a tabhairt don núalaíocht a bhaineann le comhlachtaí ar nós EO teilifís, Nemeton TV sa Rinn, Irish TV i gContae Mhaigh Eo agus Telegael a bhfuil ardán idirnáisiúnta bainte amach aige ó thaobh chúrsaí anamúlachta agus mar sin de. Tá teicneolaíocht ag athrú an t-am ar fad. Táimíd ag breathnú ar mhúnlaí nua ar nós Netflix, Amazon TV agus mar sin de ag teacht chun cinn. Cá bhfuil todhchaí TG4? B'fhéidir go mbeidh deireadh leis an stáisiún teilifíse mar stáisiún teilifíse. Cén chaoi a ndéanfaidh TG4 athrú le go mbeidh sé fós ag craoladh do phobal na Gaeilge ar fud an domhain? Gan dabht tá deiseanna ag baint leis ach tá dúshlán ag baint leis chomh maith céanna.
Ms Louise Allen:
I thank Senator Ó Clochartaigh for his questions. In terms of how we compare internationally, we rank like with like. Our challenge is that we do not have a huge number of product or industrial design companies of a scale which can compete from a cost perspective. One of the stories in Milan is about a company called Dolmen, which has launched a device called Moocall. I think it did it in partnership with the IFA. It alerts farmers as to when a cow is about to calve. It will send an alert to both the vet and the farmer. Globally, that kind of product is worth billions. The committee will be able to do the maths itself.
The point about the diaspora and the brain drain is critical. We need, from a policy perspective, to start putting in enablers and infrastructure to make it attractive for our designers and our design community to remain in Ireland. The whole fabric of manufacturing and production is changing radically. I had a discussion with the CEO of Casino, which is one of the largest Italian furniture manufacturers in the world. He was saying that even the Italian industry is changing. A democratisation of manufacturing and producing is happening worldwide, and Liam Casey is responsible for some of this. This gives the potential to individual or small companies to make and compete globally. It also means there are more mergers and acquisitions, so they are competing against very large global corporations. We need to put the infrastructure and supports in place for those on the middle ground. We are not going to compete at every level, but we can identify where we can compete.
The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland has commissioned an audit of producing and making in Ireland. Irish Design 2015 is also looking at a programme to see how we can map our resources. Often the problem is not that we do not have the skills here, but rather that we do not have the visibility of the skills available in Ireland. It is very important to bring some kind of a brokerage system to bear in order that we can enable people to produce efficiently and effectively in Ireland.
We were asked what gaps there are in training at third level. The animation sector, for example, finds it quite challenging to recruit animators in Ireland, although it is a thriving sector. In respect of the fashion and textile sector, which was mentioned, we are working closely with the British Fashion Council. It provides supports over a three-year period and a lot of that support is directly into the trade. It will have placements with fashion manufacturers, producers and designers.
This gives those graduates the kind of live training and hands-on knowledge they need when they want to go out and make a name and business for themselves. We have seen many of our designers return to Ireland over the past number of years and we need to incentivise them to remain here.
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Is cinnte go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ag meath ar fud na Gaeltachta, go bhfuil brú mór ar an nGaeilge agus ar an nGaeltacht agus go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag cúngú agus go bhfuil sin ag tarla i ngach Gaeltacht sa tír seo. Ach creidim gur ábhar dóchais é go bhfuil an Ghaeilge i bhfad níos láidre lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht. Creidim freisin go bhfuil cuid mhór de phobal na Gaeltachta anois - mar gheall ar an lagrach a bhí againn le roinnt blianta - réasúnta bocht i láthair na huaire agus go bfhuil imirce ann agus go leor daoine imithe. Mar sin, tá an Ghaeltacht níos laige ó thaobh saibhris teanga agus saibhris eacnamaíochta de. Ach sílim go bhfuil an Ghaeilge níos láidre ar fud na tíre agus go bhfuil ról tábhachtach ag TG4, mar aon leis An Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, le fáilte a chur ar dhaoine agus an Ghaeilge a bhrú orthu. Tá ról ag TG4 an Ghaeilge a bhrú mar theanga ionas gur féidir éisteacht léi, breathnú uirthi agus sult a bhaint aisti agus oideachas a fháil. Caithfidh an Ghaeilge a bheith mar chuid dár saol agus caithfear fáilte a chur roimpi agus í a úsáid, cé acu an bhfuil duine ar bheagán focal nó ar mhórán focal.
It is true that technology has changed. Just four or five years ago at TG4, everything was on tape, it was standard definition, presentation was manual and everything was on long form content and we were broadcasting for Ireland. Today, however, we have a tapeless or file-based station, everything is high definition, transmission is fully automated, it is short and long form, is on all digital devices and is aired throughout the world. Tá athrú an-mhór tagtha agus is féidir linn seirbhís a chur ar fáil do gach duine ar fud an domhain.
Maidir leis an todchaí, the future, it is very challenging. However, if TG4 remains an Irish station with Irish content mirroring Irish life, music, sport, song and dance, I believe there will be a demand for it. Netflix, etc., is an additionality and is in demand, but if TG4 remains Irish with Irish content, sílim go mbeidh an pobal ag iarraidh breathnú ar stáisiún TG4, atá mar íomhá ar shaol na tíre seo.
I have a number of questions. TG4 is a wonderful station and I know many people who watch it regularly. Some of them do not have great Irish, but they enjoy the content and it is helpful that programmes are subtitled. Many youngsters enjoy watching programmes like "Sesame Street" or "The Muppet Show" which have been dubbed in Irish. That is a great idea.
We have a huge diaspora, but does TG4 see a role for itself in reaching out to them? I am not sure how the process works, but does TG4 have a role in selling on its product so that people in Australia or America can tune in and watch programmes that it has commissioned and broadcast? How do production companies tender for work with TG4? Do they come to TG4 with ideas or does TG4 come up with the ideas and then reach out to them?
Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir:
Young people and children are very important. We dedicate approximately seven hours per day for young people, between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and then again between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. with content between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. being geared towards teenagers. Young people are important and we will continue to serve them.
On the diaspora, as I mentioned, technology at TG4 has changed significantly. We have our traditional TG4 television and the TG4 player. With all of the content we commission, bar sports, we have international rights and this is available live on the TG4 player and there is also a 35 day catch up. Therefore, throughout the world, anyone who wants to watch TG4 content may do so within 35 days. This is a good service which is very much in demand.
I also have some questions for Ms Allen. Does she think career guidance is reaching young people and revealing to them the potential of design as a career path?
Does she believe the arts offices should have a greater role in supporting any young people who come up with designs and linking them to the enterprise offices? I recently had an interesting engagement with a young milliner whose house is overflowing. What organisations can creative people approach about identifying spaces particularly in rural areas? Is there a role for the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland in this regard? For example, Shannon Development may have some available property. I mention that because I am familiar with that area. In other areas there may be spaces that could be identified similar to the Fumbally Exchange Ms Allen referred to but that it would be more of a rural area.
Offaly County Council and the county enterprise board acquired a space, called the innovation hub, which includes a number of young technology companies which are coming up with all sorts of ideas for apps etc. Perhaps that could be replicated elsewhere.
Each county has people with particular skills and crafts. I will focus on one that I know well and I love its name, Offaly Crafty. It does pop-up shops. It is amazing to see what is going on in one's own county that one did not know about. Is there not potential throughout the country to have permanent spaces where craft spaces can exhibit? I do not know if each county can sustain that. For example, many national craftspeople exhibit in the Core Crafted Design in Ballinahown. Could each county sustain something like that or should it be done regionally? We need something permanently accessible. Given the increase in the number of tourists who seek out something that is distinctively Irish, there might be potential in that regard.
Ms Allen spoke about going to Milan. Hazel Greene, the Offaly-based silk scarf designer, won the accessory designer of the year in a competition in Galway which is wonderful. I understand that she has received commissions for some of her work. It is great to see all of that success. Many people are surprised about what is happening with the creative economy. Are we taking it somewhat for granted because we are so good at it? Do we really appreciate it enough? Do our national broadcaster and the other broadcasters give it sufficient focus? Does it have to be part of a specialist programme or, if there is a great success in an international competition, should that not feature as part of the mainstream news to allow people to appreciate what we have as a nation?
Ms Louise Allen:
The Cathaoirleach has raised some valid points. In one of my former roles with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, I worked directly with some of the career guidance agencies. From a local enterprise office understanding and from a designer's, craftsperson's or artist's perspective there is a challenge in terms of understanding what the job is. Young designers presenting themselves do not necessarily see themselves as entrepreneurs. Equally a local enterprise office will not necessarily see them as potentially being the next business it wants to be able to support. We need to put that infrastructure in place.
The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland has launched a number of initiatives and we are actively working with the local enterprise offices. We have set up a design mentoring panel to give advice to young and emerging craft enterprises. We have realised that just as the designers need an education, the agencies also need an education. We will actively work with them to deliver workshops regionally. We have set up an initiative, called Fuse, that brings a number of experts in retail, design, innovation and PR into a space with a group of designers to work intensively with them to understand what those young creative individuals need in terms of support. That is followed on by one-to-one mentoring, much of which is supported through a partnership between local enterprise offices, and Irish Design 2015 and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.
The role of arts officers in supporting the designers is very important. I was an arts officer for a brief period and I know it is a very demanding role. More to the point, there is a gap. There could be a role for a similar person in the design field - a design officer or a craft and design officer in the local authority who could potentially deliver a dedicated support service. If we try to give too much work to arts officers, they might not be able to deliver.
On spaces for creative individuals, the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland is looking at creating centres of excellence for fashion and textiles, and ceramics. There is a benefit in terms of supporting the emergence of workspaces for creatives. We need to look at the model. I know a number of local enterprise offices have supported those in the past. Not all of them have been successful and some have been extremely successful. We need to look at the levels of investment and how we bring creatives and companies forward, looking at those economies of scale and how those enterprises can scale. We need to come together and develop a number of strategies in partnership.
The Chairman asked if we appreciate the creative economy enough and if we take it for granted. We work in partnership with the media. The Irish Timesand RTE are very strong partners particularly for Irish Design 2015. It is very important to celebrate our wins. It would be great to have a slot that celebrates Irish design in Milan, for example, on the national news. We need to become more aware of the contribution not only to the economy but also from a cultural perspective of how Ireland is perceived abroad. The level and depth of culture that we hold intrinsically in ourselves without even knowing it is something we should celebrate more fully.
That concludes our engagement. I thank all the witnesses for attending. The meeting is adjourned until 1.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 28 April when we will resume our discussion on the potential for job creation, innovation and balanced economic development in the creative economy.