A strategic plan to help develop and grow the creative entrepreneur sector across Donegal was officially launched in Letterkenny on Monday.
It took place in the Regional Culture Centre and featured a number of speakers including Minister of State Joe McHugh TD, Mayor of Donegal Cllr John Campbell and Head of Enterprise at the Local Enterprise Office, Michael Tunney.
It saw the launch of a new document called “Creative Donegal: A strategic action plan for Creative Entrepreneurship in Donegal” presented by the Donegal Local Enterprise Office and Donegal County Council.
Speaking after the event, Mr Tunney said they are looking at working with a diverse range of creative initiatives with the view to helping them network with others to grow the sector.
“We started out in the process last September. We held workshops with the sector right up until Christmas and we have been tweaking it ever since.
“The plan is really about how can we get more businesses from within the creative industries. How can we make them more solid and sustainable businesses, to get more employment and more wealth out of it. We estimate 400, and probably closer to 500 people, are involved in creative industries in the county. There is quite a big sector out there but a lot of them are one person operators.
“It encompasses everything from graphic designers to potters, textiles, to IT to computer gaming, drama, music, song writers, there is a whole lot there. One of the things we found in the workshops, which was a strong recommendation and action in the plan, was to find out the numbers we have involved and then connect them. Because from other projects, European projects, there seemed to be a lot of merit in bringing them together to collaborate together on various things they could access locally, nationally or even internationally. So the plan really is to set that we raise awareness of the sector. Make contact within the sector and then open up opportunities for them,” he stated.
He said there are seven key actions in the short term, such as setting up a co-ordinating body and setting up a network for the creative themselves. Also managing support for the County Enterprise Board, the Local Enterprise Office, Enterprise Ireland and others to make them suitable for the creative entrepreneur.
It will look at opportunities for funding as well as more long term strategies, he explained.
“There was a very strong buy-in from the businesses in the process. I suppose it was the first time they have seen an entity give acknowledgement they can and do add value to society and our economy. There is a huge appetite of wanting to achieve so hopefully we can respond to that. Like I said in the presentation, yes they have bought in and I want them to challenge us in the public sector, because I definitely will be challenging them saying ‘right, that’s grand, but what are you going to do about it?’. We will work with you but what are you going to do. It was the same with food and some to the other sectors, because businesses need to tell us what they need and they also need to buy into the process. So that is the challenge and it has been a very interesting so far,” he added.