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Speaking at the recent Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) AGM at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin, Karen Hennessy, CEO stated that ‘design and craft industries make a huge contribution to Ireland’s rural economy’.  This statement is wholly true, and since the establishment of Ireland’s first National Design Forum in 2017, the DCCoI has worked collaboratively to influence the development of design infrastructure across Ireland.

However, outside of the design sector the value of the wider creative sector and its vitality to communities across rural Ireland needs to be better understood.  Appropriate mapping of the sector is important for us to better understand trends, creative practitioner needs and to identify how we might build greater levels of support and opportunities for the development of sustainable creative enterprises.

KTCL was part of such a mapping process in 2015, mapping the creative and cultural industries in the south east region across Waterford Wexford and Kilkenny working alongside Zero-G and Waterford Institute of Technology as advisers to the Bid Team; a project to support the Three Sisters 2020 bid for the European Capital of Culture.  This mapping highlighted interconnectedness previously unknown across the south east region and identified over 1,700 creative industries, with 90% being micro-businesses and identifying over 60 direct connections across Europe and globally.

European and global connections will play an increasingly important role in the development of the creative industries sector into the future. Given the growing likelihood of a No-Deal BREXIT in the coming months, Ireland’s Europeanness will become ever more important and connectivity of the sector will require the support of Government to continue to impact the livelihoods of creatives living in rural Ireland and to increase the value to their respective communities.

We need now to embrace the co-operative and collaborative potential of creativity in our rural areas with the goal of enhancing the wellbeing of our citizens, clustering potential for development, offering opportunities to connect with a shared European heritage and through their creative spirit and enterprise, boost Ireland’s reputation internationally.