Funding boost for craft and design week

Ahead of the annual Kilkenny Irish Craft and Design Week, hopes are high that with a threefold increase in funding, this year’s event will promote ‘Brand Ireland’ like never before.

After a tough couple of years for the sector, the Kilkenny Group is hoping the increased investment in its showcase of Irish designers will engage consumers with indigenous designers to a greater degree than in previous years.

Funding for this year’s event, which takes place from October 6-12, has trebled from €25m to €75m, thanks in part to the group striking a sponsorship deal with insurance company Axa.

Describing the craft retail sector as “one of the most challenging”, Kilkenny Group marketing manager Greg O’Gormon said there has been a small turnaround in recent years but that business is still challenging.

“When the recession hit, there were two very tough years. It hit very quickly [and] resulted in a lot of consumers’ disposable income being reduced significantly. There was a fear of spending, retail sales declined significantly, and there were a lot of casualties as a result. Thankfully, we managed to turn our ship around after about 18 months.

“I think it’s still very challenging, there’s no level of consistency. Every week and every month can be quite different to the previous week or month,” Mr O’Gormon said, adding, however, that “we’re not getting any weaker”.

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