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We need a greater focus on the Creative Sector by Irish Policymakers in Ireland

This article first appeared on RTE Brainstorm available here

The term ‘creative’ is popular, but a fuzzy concept. Humans are the carriers of knowledge and we are inherently creative. Human capital has long been identified as a major source of economic growth. Richard Florida (a leading author on economic competitiveness) stressed the important relationship between culture, creative occupations and innovation and he argued that creativity should be seen as an occupational based measure, rather than an educationally based one. He pointed out, that the educational measurement of human capital leaves out a small but incredibly influential group of entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates or Michael Dell, who for various reasons did not go on to or finish college. And also, many people may be very well educated, but not in a position to be very creative. For instance, a taxi driver or a security guard may have a PhD but they are not in a position to be very creative, as the environment in which they carry out their job is constrained – there is no opportunity for creativity. It is for these reasons, that Florida suggested the use of an occupational measure of creativity.

In addition, the term ‘cultural industries’ or ‘creative industries’ are used interchangeably. Florida’s ‘creative occupation’ metric can also be extended to a ‘creative industry’ metric. Those employed in the creative occupations produce goods and services making the firms in which they work in – creative firms. There are very few definitions of the creative industry but the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are one of the leading institutions attempting to get a more defined categorisation around the term. They incorporate activities such as: advertising; architecture; art and antique markets; designer fashion; video, film and photography; music and the performing and visual arts; publishing; software, computer games, and electronic publishing; radio and television; craft; and design.

Ireland has been identified as exhibiting a good environment for creative occupations and the creative sector. In the 2017, European Cultural and Cities monitor: Irish cities are ranked better than most of their European rivals. Cork, ranked first for ‘cultural vibrancy’ among the small and medium cities category. Dublin ranked well across all measures, which further included measures on the creative economy and the enabling environment. And of course, Dublin was designated the status of an UNESCO literature city in 2010 and Galway, the UNESCO film city status in 2014. From this, one would think Ireland