Culture generates €11.8bn for economy

NEW research shows that Irish culture is a big money spinner for the economy, generating €11.8 billion in revenues last year and accounting for 7.6% of total GNP.

The findings were presented to the global economic forum by Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen, at a key session entitled ‘Promoting brand Ireland through our global cultural profile’.

The findings were from consultants DKM, of which Bord Snip head Colm McCarthy was a founder member.

Mr Cullen said the reality is that the cultural and creative sectors in Ireland form one of the most dynamic parts in the struggling economy, set to grow at the rate of 10% annually.

The report estimates a total of 73,000 jobs are in part dependent on cultural tourism in Ireland and that employment generated by the sector overall is 170,000 or 8.7% of the total.

This part of the economy has also yielded a positive return to the state which earned €330m from the direct investment it made in the sector last year, the report said.

DKM said the sectors are among the fastest growing in the economy representing 7% of our GDP while growing yearly at a rate of 10%.

Boosted by the upbeat report Mr Cullen said in his forum address “the Irish imagination is one of our greatest assets and creative ideas are the lifeblood of innovation and economic success”.

With cuts in the arts and culture sectors feared following the Bord Snip recommendations Mr Cullen said with other areas of the economy under severe pressure “Irish culture” will be a vital link in the process of getting the economy of the country back on to a path of solid sustainable growth.

The minister said the global association of Ireland with its creativity and imagination it has the potential to support “the Government’s smart economy strategy” and to reinforce the branding of Ireland as the “innovation island”.

It should also be pivotal in helping position the economy as “a global creative hub and an attractive destination for foreign direct investment”, he said.

His upbeat report was well received at the forum but it did not allay fears among representatives from the cultural side of Irish life.

On the impending threats to theatre, film and the arts in general, filmmaker Neil Jordan warned the next few years could be “cataclysmic” for all concerned.

That was deeply ironic given that the sector starting to look like “the only true success story that remains” in this country from the past 20 years.

Irish people had been let down by the banks, the construction industry and the church, but Ireland’s cultural industry has not failed the country, he said.

He added the creative part of the economy had been damaged by the boom.


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