Creative Industry in Ireland

[The following is an extract from the report “Dublin: World Design Capital – Is the Irish Creative, Design and Applied Arts Sector fit for purpose?”]

Anyone taking an objective view of the design and creative industry in Ireland/Dublin will quickly see some fundamental issues that need to be addressed if Ireland is to compete internationally in the Creative, Design and Applied Arts Sector (and in Innovation):

  • Dublin’s Creative Community is not, to any significant extent, integrated into any alliance of International Creative Organisations or Networks (less true of Architecture than of other areas)
  • Individuals and companies do not support their national professional organizations with any degree of commitment or in sufficient numbers (exception is RIAI)
  • There is little or no interaction between designers working in Ireland and their overseas counterparts (for example on international professional bodies / awards juries etc.)
  • Overseas work-experience opportunities for recent graduates are difficult to source
  • Few creatives have (or make) the opportunity to participate in important overseas events (seminars etc) concerned with their industry
  • There are usually insufficient resources to allow board members from professional / representative bodies to take part in overseas events
  • The design education sector is not integrated to any significant degree with the design industry
  • Given the lack of interaction between Irish creatives and their international counterparts a direct comparison of the academic standards of graduates of Irish third level institutions and those of leading overseas institutions is not easy. It is generally felt (by employers / design company owners) that Grade Inflation is an issue for some third level colleges teaching Design and related courses and that standards are not as high as they should be. It is also a real problem for the industry that graduates often require up to six months ‘on-the-job’ training in basic principle and techniques. Questions have been raised within the design industry as to the ‘up-skilling’ (ongoing professional development) of third level lecturers. Some third level institutions are unsupportive of the industry that will become employers of their graduates.
  • Irish Creatives seldom become members of International Bodies
  • Few Irish companies in the sector establish working partnerships with overseas companies
  • There is no equivalent to the UK ‘Design Council’ regulating, overseeing, representing and developing the industry and providing supporting infrastructure to the sector
  • There are no design related publications to inform creatives in all areas of the sector of the successes of Irish creatives and to help raise standards (by publishing articles / examples / case studies)

Of course the above list consists of some general comments – each item is not absolutely true of all areas. It points to an insular perspective – where the industry tends towards an “island” mentality and seldom presents its most skilled and talented people (in this sector) on world markets – either in creative competitions, in professional partnerships or in competition for business.

To simply assess the state of the Irish Creative, Design and Applied Arts Sector based solely on the above points would not deliver an accurate understanding as it would not take into account the many excellent creatives working successfully in Ireland or working overseas and carving strong reputations abroad. It doesn’t assess the impact of the (very few in number) world class talents that have gained international recognition. Nonetheless it can be said with certainty that the sector in Ireland, compared with its international equivalent, is neglected and grossly underdeveloped.

Improving the sector will require considerable effort and focus, over many years, at all education levels, in the professional / business field and at leadership leve

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