Screen Ireland launch new 3 year strategy, Building for a Creative Future 2024

On a visit to the set of Graham Norton-inspired series Holding in Cork, Chief Executive of Fís Eireann/Screen Ireland, Desiree Finnegan, and the recently appointed Chair of the Screen Ireland Board, Susan Bergin, launched Building for a Creative Future 2024, the new strategy from Fís Eireann/Screen Ireland. The strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the booming creative screen industry with a number of targeted initiatives to drive sustainable growth for the future.

In recognition of the continued growth in demand for skills, an investment in creative talent and skills development is at the heart of the new strategy. Screen Ireland announced plans to invest €3 million in the development of industry crew and talent in the coming months. To deliver on the skills and talent development ambitions embedded within the strategy, Screen Skills Ireland will adopt a more central role as the skills team within Screen Ireland by the end of 2021.

Three new regional Crew Hubs are planned for across the country working collectively to target a national approach to crew development. Two new ‘Screen Ireland National Talent Academies for Film and TV Drama and Animation’ have also been established to build talent and skills regionally. 

A new scheme, Pathways, will enable new entrants from a range of diverse backgrounds to gain paid work experience opportunities on film and television productions.

A range of other initiatives being announced today are designed to support this ambition:

  • a new platform called ‘Where to Watch’ which will help audiences all over the world to discover Irish productions;
  • a new Creative Futures Fund (CFF) to build additional development capabilities and to support high-quality creative projects; 
  • a new support fund for Irish distribution companies designed to help offset the challenges that have been created by Covid-19.

Building for a Creative Future 2024 builds on the momentum in the industry as it continues to enjoy growth and success despite the challenges faced over the course of the pandemic. In the first six months of 2021 the industry contributed an estimated €289 million to the economy and directly supported over 12,000 jobs. 

The global environment in which the Irish creative screen industry operates has become very competitive in the race for talent, well-written stories, production hubs, studios and tax incentives.  

Much of the success that has been achieved in recent years is the culmination of the long-term investment in talent and in growing the industry, and as such, the continued support for incentives such as Section 481 is critical.

In parallel with these fiscal incentives, we need to be creative and innovative in how we approach the future – building resilience into the sector and ensuring that we are in a position to compete for the best international productions while also identifying, nurturing and empowering local talent and productions. We believe that Strategic Plan 2024 has the right ambition, focus areas and initiatives to ensure that the creative screen industry will continue to develop in the years ahead.

Susan Bergin, Chair – Screen Ireland

This strategy sets out our ambition for a creative future as we emerge from the pandemic.  Reaching record levels of production activity in Ireland this year is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the creative screen industry’s commitment, dedication, and resilience. To achieve sustainable growth, a supportive policy environment and targeted funding initiatives will be required.

Continuing to invest in Irish creative talent and expanding the highly-skilled crew base through innovative skills development programmes will deliver a significant cultural benefit for Irish and international audiences. 

We aim to strengthen Ireland’s creative competitive advantage in a world where storytelling on screen is a cultural and economic driver for creativity and innovation, generating highly-skilled jobs, export growth and screen tourism. In this rapidly evolving sector, staying ahead of future trends and embracing creative innovation will be fundamental to developing new approaches to creative screen storytelling for next generation audiences. 

We look forward to working with all our partners, from concept development through audience engagement, to ensure that the ambitious potential of the industry can be achieved.

Desiree Finnegan, CEO – Screen Ireland

Full details of the Building for a Creative Future 2024 strategy are available on the Screen Ireland website.

Selected Highlights

Building for a Creative Future 2024 was developed by the board members of Screen Ireland after extensive consultation with stakeholders in Irish film and the screen content production sector with support from the wider Screen Ireland team.

Production activity levels in the creative screen sector have recovered and are thriving with 2021 on track to break production activity records in Ireland. An estimated €289 million economic contribution to the Irish economy was recorded from the sector in the first 6 months of this year. This puts the industry on track to beat the previous annual production contribution high of €357 million which was achieved in 2019. 

The level of activity is creating huge demand for crew, in the sector and is currently supporting some 12,000 jobs across all the key areas including production, lighting, set design, acting, directing, writing, special effects and more. 

A central focus of the strategy is to build a sustainable future for the creative screen industry that is economically resilient, socially inclusive, and environmentally responsible.  The Plan includes the following five key objectives:

  1. Develop a global reputation for innovative and creative storytelling across all genres and in all forms
  2. Invest in the talent required for the future success of the industry through supporting skill and capacity development with diversity, equity, and inclusion at its core
  3. Create opportunities for global audiences to be able to enjoy culturally rich Irish screen productions by working with strategic partners 
  4. Champion the development of a sustainable industry though supporting Irish companies to enable them to be competitive globally
  5. Ensure Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland is appropriately resourced, agile, and sustainable to effectively support the ambitious vision for the creative screen industry.

New initiatives included in ‘Building for a Creative Future 2024’   

Throughout the pandemic, Screen Ireland has focused on ensuring supports were designed and provided to the parts of the industry that needed them most at any given time. This targeted support continues with the launch of Building for a Creative Future 2024 and the announcement of the following strategic initiatives: 

  • Regional Crew Hubs: €1 million to be invested in three regional crew hubs across Ireland with lead organisations in Limerick, Galway, and Wicklow building capacity for new and established crew, with 1.75 million invested in two National Talent Academies focusing on Film & TV Drama; and animation. 
  • Pathways: €500,000 will be invested in Pathways, a diversity, equity, and inclusion fund aimed at creating paid work experience opportunities on live action production.
  • Passport to Production – €250,000 to be invested in the Passport to Production Skills development Programme which has to date provided paid placements to 70 new entrants across a range of productions in 2021.
  • Where to Watch: An audience website called Where to Watch will be launched in the coming weeks, providing a one-stop-shop for audiences to identify where they can watch Irish screen content – whether that is at the cinema, or on an on-demand platform. The new platform has been designed to make Irish content as accessible as possible to audiences all over the world and users will be able to search for their chosen production, or for their favourite actor, director, or genre.
  • Creative Futures Fund (CFF): The CFF has been established to develop expertise within existing creative screen companies, including IP driven business affairs capabilities with a particular focus on regional companies.  A total of €2.5 million will be available under this loan-style Fund. An ‘International Strand’ designed for established production companies looking to build their international footprint and emerging or smaller companies looking to build on their business development capabilities.
  • New Fund for Irish Distribution Companies: In recognition of the extraordinary challenges created by cinema closures, content delays and the competition for exhibition space in reduced capacity theatres, loans of up to €200,000 will be available to Irish distribution companies to support structural marketing to promote Irish productions worldwide.