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Creative industries in healthy position

Northern Ireland’s creative industries are generating millions of pounds and support thousands of jobs, according to a government report.

The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure has published economic estimates for the sector based on figures gathered over the past three years.

They show the creative industries added around £737m in gross value added (GVA) in 2008, representing 4.2% of Northern Ireland’s total GVA.

In 2009, government estimations show 31,000 people were in creative employment — 4.2% of Northern Ireland’s employment total.

Last year, it is estimated that there were 2,200 creative industry businesses here, representing 3.2% of all business units.

Jenny McClelland is co-founder of Belfast creative collective She Likes Surprises, who specialise in creating and customising gifts, clothes and homewares.

Founded in 2007, Ms McClelland says 2011 has been their busiest year to date, with commissions for wedding embellishments proving popular.

“These figures show that local creative industries refocus the buyers' resources, reduce carbon footprints and unemployment, and continue to enrich a country once known for its craftsmen and artisans,” she said.

“Obviously there can always be more funding and grants and initiatives have been hurt by the cuts.

“However, we take heart that the public are being encouraged to invest in its artists.”

Rob Parker, owner of Belfast-based copywriting and online content firm Voz Media, believes Northern Ireland’s digital creative start-ups have exciting growth potential.

He said: “It is only a matter of time before one of them breaks through to achieve something on the global stage that will really put Northern Ireland on the map as a creative hub.”

Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said creative firms were vital to Northern Ireland’s economic growth in the future.

She said: “The sector can help to rebuild and rebalance our economy by stimulating the innovation, research and development and creativity needed to drive export focused growth.”