Survey into West Cork’s appeal as arts mecca

It has long been a mecca for artists, writers, musicians, and craft workers — now researchers are to investigate why West Cork attracts so many creative people, assess their contribution to the economy and outline how the sector could be developed to create more jobs.

Survey into   West Cork’s appeal as arts mecca

Two teams of consultants will undertake the work, interviewing not just the local craftspeople but the retailers which sell their products and the bodies which support them, such as banks and development agencies.

The surveys are scheduled to begin within a fortnight.

Similar studies will also be carried out in Kilkenny, another renowned haven for the artistic community.

In all, just under 200 craft workers of all kinds will be surveyed throughout West Cork and Kilkenny for the research, which is being conducted by Dublin-based economic consultancy Indecon and Willie Miller Design in Glasgow, Scotland.

“There is a high concentration of craft workers in West Cork and in Kilkenny,” said Ian Dempsey, chief executive of the West Cork Development Partnership.

He said one of the studies, a cultural mapping project, aimed to identify local influences which attract and stimulate creative thinking.

“This study will look at what exists in an area’s culture, heritage, traditions, and landscape to influence creativity in arts, crafts, design capability,” he said.

It is expected that about 100 craftspeople in West Cork and 70 in Kilkenny will participate in the study, which will culminate in workshops for 15-20 people who play “pivotal” roles in the local crafts’ sectors.

“Certain areas would have a mix of influence and character that would provide opportunities for the development of the creative arts sector,” said Mr Dempsey.

Such areas, he said, often attracted significant “inward migration” of people who brought skills and traditions with them.

“Why does West Cork have so many creative people — not just in terms of crafts, but also media people, artists, film-makers?” said Mr Dempsey.

“The idea is that it has a mix of influences and characteristics that can stimulate these sectors. There’s something that attracts them there in the first place and draws creativity from them.”

The second study will examine the contribution made by the craft sector to local economies.

“This study will look at the economic role these workers play in the local economy and also to see how they might be developed in the short term, and the potential they have to create greater employment,” said Mr Dempsey.

The research will be published in late spring. Both projects have been commissioned by the Crafts Council of Ireland in association with the West Cork Development Partnership and the Kilkenny Leader Partnership.

*West Cork Development Partnership, 023 883 4035

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