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Ardmore Studios Calls on Government To Provide €15m Infrastructure Fund to Support Growth in Audio-visual Industry
14 Nov 2014 : Seán Brosnan
Siún Ní Raghallaigh, Chief Executive of Ardmore Studios, has stated that while Ireland’s film and TV production industry are poised to gain substantially from the benefits of the newly enhanced film tax credit scheme (Section 481), desired growth is hindered by the lack of sufficient studio space and facilities to enable these benefits to materialise.

Ms. Ní Raghallaigh (former Director of Marketing and Development at TG4) is calling on the government to almost double the studio space in Ireland with a minimum of 100,000 sq.ft in additional studio space (which is currently 111,000 sq.ft) to compete with other territories such as the UK. She also wants the government to establish a €15m infrastructure fund to support the audio-visual sector which she states would have the potential to create 5,000 new high-skill jobs and increase annual revenues to €1 billion by 2016 as set out in the Creative Capital – Building Ireland’s Audio Visual Economy (2011) report.

With the global market for creative audio visual content projected to grow at a rate of 30% over the next five years, Ms Ní Raghallaigh claims that it would cost €30m to develop a further 100,000 sq. ft. of studio space and 150,000sq.ft. of support buildings required to cater for international productions here. ‘We are asking the Government to establish a fund of €15m to enable the sector take best advantage of the film credit scheme and create sustainable growth.’

‘The lack of suitable studio space is an issue of great concern for the industry. We ourselves have had to turn away business in the past year because we simply do not have the required capacity. Studios are the essential enablers for the industry to scale. The ability to build up a capital fund for re-investment in infrastructure is extremely limited and can take years. Ardmore, for example, has already re-invested in the past two years, but to build the scale needed by the industry requires immediate investment. There is strong international interest in Ireland as a production location thanks to the positive tax incentives under Section 481. However, the missing piece of the jigsaw is the availability of appropriate full service studio space in the country.’

Ardmore Studios maintains that Ireland, facing competition other industries such as the UK, will inevitably lose out if they are to continue turning away potential business because of a lack of space.

The island of Ireland has played and continues to play host to series such as ‘The Tudors’ (2007-2010), ‘Penny Dreadful’ (2013 to present), ‘Vikings’ (2012 to present) and ‘Game of Thrones’ (2009 to present). Ms. Ní Raghallaigh states that Ireland can attract more international series, each generating €30m to €50m per year in local expenditure and each creating 350 to 500 jobs.

Ardmore Studios, established over 50 years ago and a central part to Ireland’s film and television structure, is the largest and only studio in Ireland to offer five international standard sound stages with full support services on site and is a brand that is recognised throughout the world. ‘Penny Dreadful’ is currently shooting it’s second season there while it has in the past become home to hundreds of national and international productions including ‘Braveheart’, ‘My Left Foot’, ‘Excalibur’, ‘The Tudors’ and ‘Moone Boy’.

In addition to this, international production ‘Vikings’ (airing on the History Channel in the US) has just recently wrapped its third season at Ashford Studios, located in County Wicklow with HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ shooting in Titanic Studios in Northern Ireland.

Ms. Ní Raghallaigh continues: ‘The Government is to be applauded for creating the right environment to attract productions; however, it is falling short by not addressing the need to incentivise and accelerate the creation of vital studio infrastructure to cater for these productions. Without this support, growth will be very limited. It is akin to encouraging airlines to fly to Ireland by removing the travel tax, but at the same time not having the right airport infrastructure to meet the increased demand.’

‘With over 500 Irish-owned companies operating across a wide range of production activities, employing some 5,000 people the sector is substantial in terms of employment and overall contribution to the economy. It also plays an important role through tourism promotion with 20% of tourists choosing Ireland as a holiday destination after seeing scenes of Ireland on screen.’

‘The potential for our industry to scale up and create thousands of quality jobs is at our fingertips provided we look at the bigger picture and create the right environment to grow the industry,’ Ms Ní Raghallaigh concludes.





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