Creative industries worth £33m to Outer Hebrides economy

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The arts and creative industries in the Outer Hebrides support around 500 jobs and add more than £33 million to the local economy, according to new research published yesterday (Tuesday, July 10th).

The research identified direct employment in the arts and creative industries in the Outer Hebrides to be around 390.

Of these, the vast majority are employed in TV and Radio, Fashion and Textiles (including Harris Tweed), the heritage sector, publishing and architecture.

The study further identifies high numbers of micro-businesses and sole traders working in the arts and creative industries, suggesting the total number of people employed in the sector may exceed 500.

When indirect contributions (through the supply chain) and induced effects (spending by those working in the arts and creative industries) are considered, the total impact of the sector is over £33m gross value added (GVA) and £67m in turnover.

Mairi Buchanan, Senior Development Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise – which commissioned the study alongside Creative Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and the Comhairle – said: “The analysis shows the contribution made at every level and scale of enterprise, from the large scale activities associated with Harris Tweed, heritage and broadcasting to those who are self-employed and micro-businesses.

“Each has a substantial cultural and community importance, and together they make a vital and powerful contribution to the islands’ economy.”

Many of those working in the arts and creative industries report the value of community and related cultural associations, and of professional networks.

The Outer Hebrides’ cultural resources include a range of museums, historical societies, archives and archaeology, as well as opportunities for training and development in creative and cultural subjects.

A number of events and facilities contribute to the distinctiveness of the islands, including the Hebridean Celtic Festival, the An Lanntair and Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centres, and Stornoway’s new Creative Industries and Media Centre.

Commenting on the findings, Caroline MacLennan, director of the Hebridean Celtic Festival which kicks off tonight (Wednesday, July 11th), said: “We welcome this very interesting report which highlights the importance of events like HebCelt to the island’s economy and tourism industry.

“HebCelt, which is now in its 17th year, attracts over 14,000 people to the area annually and is worth around £1.5million annually with spin offs for many local businesses.

“This year we will have visitors from 19 different countries attending and hopefully that kind of pulling power will continue to be embraced and supported in future.”

The study also confirms the importance of local identity and Gaelic culture to creative activity in the Outer Hebrides and highlights the contribution of the arts and creative industries to inward migration and tourism.

And the report found that the arts and creative industries play a significant role in attracting visitors, whose £6 million expenditure contributes around £2.5m GVA, mainly in accommodation and catering.
The study is available to download at: www.creativescotland.com/resources/research