In addition to a creative momentum project, recent years have seen the development of a number of projects supporting creative sector development in the West of Ireland. These include Creative Edge (Northern Periphery Programme funded), Harnessing Creativity (Interreg IVA funded), Creative Connections (supporting craft and led by four Local Enterprise Offices) and Creative Communities Igniting Change (Erasmus+ funded). Alongside this, Irelands first national cultural policy Culture 2025 was launched in 2016. The Creative Ireland programme is Culture 2025s main implementation vehicle which is also rooted locally supported by county-level culture and creativity plans. With this increasing recognition of the importance of creative and cultural industries, and projects that have built networks and capacity in the West of Ireland, we need to look to the development of longer-term evidence-based strategies to support future growth. Good practice suggests approaches to creative industry development must be tailored to the requirements and characteristics of specific regions (Creative Growth, 2011; Banks & OConnor, 2009; Bell and Jayne, 2010). In this context, this report provides evidence that can inform future development of the creative sector in the West of Ireland.
Here we present an assessment of creative sector support needs in the West of Ireland region based on the perspective of creative practitioners and entrepreneurs. The report is underpinned by evidence from an online survey of the creative sector, as well as a series of interviews with creative professionals1. Data collected aimed to gain an understanding of the general attributes of the region that impact the capacity for creative entrepreneurship, such as communications infrastructure, natural and broader business environment. It also focused on supports received and current needs of entrepreneurs, as well as challenges facing future development. We also discuss the strengths of the region and outline good practice examples of innovative initiatives and supports. This part of the analysis can also provide insights for other peripheral regions to inform approaches to creative sector development.