The Belfast Telegraph’s Tell Us About It roadshow finished its “two month odyssey around Northern Ireland” in Belfast City Hall tonight where more than 50 members of the public had battled through the rain to pose questions to the panel of five politicians chaired by Lynda Bryans.
The second question of the evening challenged the inevitable cuts to arts budgets under the spending review. As part of his answer, the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland singled out the potential for the local digital economy and creative industries.
This week, the Build conference returns to the Belfast bringing together web designers from across the world. You can see the conference banners hanging outside the Waterfront Hall.
At the end of the event, I asked Nelson to explain more about what he’d mentioned about the digital economy.
He talked about his trip out to the SXSW festival (South By South West) in Austin, Texas.
“I was struck by the number of young people involved in the digital economy that I hadn’t met here in Belfast. And I discovered that quite a number of them were actually working from a base about four or five hundred yards from my office. And yet I had to go all the way to Austin to meet them.
So there’s work to be done there in terms of raising that potential and right across the political spectrum getting politicians to recognise that areas such as creative industries are really important for the future of the economy of Northern Ireland.”
In terms of initiatives and opportunities that could be offered to this industry, he went on say:
“There was a Digital Circle formed of people who are the experts and practitioners in that field. A lot of the remit for this falls within Invest NI’s responsibility and DETI, rather than DCAL.
Our role is more of a supporting role. But there is a crossover in that NI Screen has a remit for that, maybe one that hasn’t been as fully developed as it could have in the past.
We’re actually working with Invest NI, with DETI, at how that could be reconfigured to make government more supportive of the digital sector. And I would hope that the results of that will be out in the next number of months.”