Creative Ireland plan reaching ‘squeaky bum time’

Ireland needs to ‘go big or go home’ on film and television industry strategy, event hears

Creative Ireland: The film ‘Sing Street’, one of the productions supported by the Irish Film Board, has won international acclaim.

Creative Ireland: The film ‘Sing Street’, one of the productions supported by the Irish Film Board, has won international acclaim.

 

The financing of the Government’s Creative Ireland strategy, a five-year plan to put “creativity at the centre of public policy” is reaching “squeaky bum time”, according to the director of the programme, John Concannon.

Addressing the Mediacon summit in Dublin Castle, Mr Concannon said the Government had “choices to make” on its support for Ireland’s film and television industry.

“We’re going to come to what Alex Ferguson would call squeaky bum time, because how are we going to get the investment that is needed?” he asked, using a phrase popularised by the former Manchester United manager to describe the crunch moments of a match or season.

The Creative Ireland report, launched by Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys last December, expressed the desire for Ireland to become “a centre of media excellence”.

This “pillar” of the strategy would have an initial focus on building on Ireland’s potential as “a global leader in film production, TV drama, documentary, children’s storytelling and animation for the screen”, the report claimed.

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Mr Concannon told the Mediacon event that it would be “difficult” for Ireland to replicate the recent television export success of countries such as Denmark and Israel.

However, at a meeting last Friday involving RTÉ director-general Dee Forbes and representatives of the Irish Film Board, TV3, TG4 and Screen Producers Ireland, there had been a sense that Ireland could achieve greater things in the industry through collaboration, he said.

‘Confidence’

“There’s a real sense of confidence and possibility and hope that we could do something,” he said.

Both Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey and independent producer Larry Bass, whose company Shinawil makes Dancing with the Stars and Dragon’s Den for RTÉ, highlighted the need for greater funding for research and development (R&D) in the industry.

“Every other industry knows that research and development is absolutely key,” Mr Hickey said.

“We need to start recognising that investment in television, investment in R&D, needs to be treated the same way as investment in pharma, and should have the same tax treatment,” said Mr Bass.

Glen Killane, the former managing director of RTÉ Television who is now head of Eir Sport and Eir TV, said there was a need for more focus in the strategy.

The audio-visual industries in Denmark and Israel tend to be known for one or two areas of expertise, rather than being “famous for lots of things”, Mr Killane said, adding that Ireland needs to “go big or go home”.