Arts Council Conference Celebrates Creative Industries

The Lyric Theatre hosts a wealth of national and international speakers

Over 250 people employed in the creative industries in Northern Ireland came together this week at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Thrive conference at the Lyric Theatre.

The half-day conference showcased the work of some of the Northern Irish companies to have been supported by the Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF).

Attendees also availed of the opportunity to network and share best practice in a number of breakout sessions on ‘strategy and planning’, ‘growing your business’ and ‘skills development through apprenticeships’.

Keynote speakers included Eric Huang, development director of digital agency ‘Made in Me’, as well as recognised leaders in the creative industries in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the event, Carál Ní Chuilín, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, said: 'Globally there is a shift from the declining traditional "heavy" industries to the creative industries, and that is also reflected here. Our creative sector remains one of the few areas of growth and is a vital source of our competitive strength, wealth and job creation.

'Events such as Thrive are invaluable in both showcasing our local success stories but also in highlighting the availability of the funding that will make businesses here as well equipped as possible to compete at the forefront of the global market.'

Administered by ACNI with funding from DCAL and supported by Northern Ireland Screen and Digital Circle, CIIF provides seed funding to creative businesses (up to £10k) and sectoral development bodies (up to £20k) to enable the development of new products and services. To date, 301 projects have been supported with a £5.1m CIIF funding investment.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'Today has been a resounding success and I think it is a true sign of the burgeoning creativity here in Northern Ireland that so many people have attended the event.

'Investment in creative industries is generating high economic returns and there is potential for much more. At the Arts Council we want to put our support firmly behind local companies and to help them develop and transform their creative ideas into commercial success and, with DCAL’s funding committed through to 2015, we look forward to supporting the pioneering and innovative work that’s currently taking place in Northern Ireland's creative sector.'

ACNI is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland, providing the main support for artists and arts organisations throughout the region through a range of funding opportunities. ACNI distributes public money and National Lottery funds to organisations that develop and deliver arts programmes across all society.

In Northern Ireland, as across much of the developed world, forecasters have witnessed a marked shift from the declining traditional heavy industries to creative sector and its range of cultural products. The latest research by KPMG commissioned by ACNI at the end of last year forecasts the GVA of the creative industries in Northern Ireland will be close to £1 billion by 2015, with 37,000 employed.