Support for creative industries sector crucial to future UU

Ulster University Chancellor James Nesbitt, Fiona McElroy and Dr Colm Murphy of Ulster University with a copy of the  Honeycomb - Creative Works Framing your Future report into the creative industries
Ulster University Chancellor James Nesbitt, Fiona McElroy and Dr Colm Murphy of Ulster University with a copy of the Honeycomb - Creative Works Framing your Future report into the creative industries

The creative industries in Northern Ireland have plenty of potential for growth but that must be matched by tangible backuing from Stormont a report from Ulster University has claimed.

The latest Honeycomb – Creative Works report, Framing the Future, complied by the university and launched by its Chancellor, James Nesbitt, says it has identified gaps in support and capability within the film and broadcast sector that could impact on future growth.

The report which examines the sector across the province, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, makes a series of recommendations on how the sector could be better supported and developed based on a detailed analysis of 87 companies.

Given that film and broadcast companies based outside the greater Belfast area enjoy a significant cost advantage compared to the rest of the UK, it suggests that a strategic development plan could maximise this potential and turn the region into an internationallly competitive centre for film and broadcast centre.

However, levels of government support for companies were found to be lower across Northern Ireland than support offered to similar businesses in the border counties and west of Scotland.

The report highlights that Investment in new technology and skills development, particularly within the freelance part of the sector will help the industry to position itself more strongly on a regional basis.

In addition, the report recommends that support also be provided to help develop business skills and start ups, reduce reliance on the domestic market and ensure that firms across the province can bid for their share of network production spend.

“The creative industries is one of our most successful and internationally respected sectors,” said Dr Colm Murphy, head of film, media and journalism at UU and the report’s co-author.

“However, it is relatively small and suffers from under-investment in priority areas which could impact on its future growth.

“The majority of companies are small and almost 50 per cent rely on freelance skills to fulfil key contracts,” he added.

“ Most have little additional time or resource to enhance core business management, international networking or technical skills that would strengthen the companies and the local economy.

“Our report has highlighted the challenges faced by the sector and identifies some actions which could position creative industries as a whole in Northern Ireland more competitively, not just locally but also in export markets.”