Mapping the Crafts Sector: launch of crafts sector reports

11 January 2014 | blog, comment, strategy, tourism

Launch of the Crafts Sector reports by WMUD and Indecon in Kilkenny, 10 January 2014

Launch of the Crafts Sector reports by WMUD and Indecon in Kilkenny, 10 January 2014 – from left to right Minister Phil Hogan, TC, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Crafts Council of Ireland and Ian Dempsey, Chief Executive Officer of West Cork Development Partnership

News Item:

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, T.D., launched two reports that outline recommendations for significantly developing the craft sector in Ireland which provides vital employment in local economies throughout the country and generates an output of almost half a billion euros.

Plans for the integration of a craft strategy into the Regional Development Plan strategies 2014 – 2020 and for the adoption of a number of recommendations from the reports were announced by the Local Development Companies (LDC) in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoI). The partnership between LDC and CCoI provides a road map for future investment and joint actions in the development of the crafts sector leading to growth and job creation in rural economies.

The two reports were commissioned by The West Cork Development Partnership on behalf of a consortium of Local Development Companies – Ballyhoura Development Ltd; Wexford Local Development; Kilkenny LEADER Partnership; and South Tipperary Development Company – in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland.

‘Mapping the Craft Sectors in Southern Ireland’ by Willie Miller Urban Design (WMUD), with Yellow Book and Drew Mackie Associates, examines the environmental, economic and infrastructural conditions that have led to the development of craft clusters in specific regions. It highlights the importance and legacy of significant interventions at periods of time in our history, such as establishing Kilkenny Design Workshops in the 1960s, as well as examining how place, culture and environmental factors can lead to the development of strong craft and cultural communities in regions such as West Cork.

Ian Dempsey, Chief Executive Officer, West Cork Development Partnership added, “A vibrant partnership between the CCoI, the LEADER programme and many local stakeholders represents a strong platform for further collaboration in the development, provision and funding of a range of projects that can deliver upon the recommendations made in the reports,”. He also referred to the diagram below.
Place, creativity and the rural economy
This was our attempt to capture the new rural development model in graphic form:

  • some places have a rich common pool of assets – landscapes, heritage, culture and tradition – as well as, in some cases, a creative milieu founded on talented individuals
  • this common pool helps to attract investment in a variety of forms: discerning, high-spending visitors come to the area to experience its special qualities; talented individuals are drawn to it as a place to live and work; and investors and entrepreneurs recognise business opportunities
  • this contributes to the emergence of a new rural economy founded, among others, on tourism and creative industries: crafts, culture and food coalesce and complement the natural environment; festivals and other events exploit these cultural assets
  • in this new model, competitive advantage is based on place quality, distinctiveness and the “collective magnetism” (Scott, 2010) exerted by numerous related microbusinesses
  • public sector intervention may take a variety of forms, including: (i) place marketing and promotion, and (ii) investment in the common pool – for example, in the built environment, conservation of natural landscapes or business development

The model provides the rationale for LDC support for the crafts sector and other creative/cultural industries. In line with the spirit of “conglomerate interdependency” (Scott, 2010) the value of this group of industries lies not so much in the contribution of individual enterprises as in their collective effects. They complement, reinforce and amplify each other, and provide powerful narratives for place marketing and tourism promotion.