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Ecologies of Cultural Production

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Ecologies of Cultural Production is a research project based in Film Studies within the School of Creative Arts. The focus is on career construction in film, television drama and theatre – how do people enter the fields of filmmaking, television drama and theatre-making, and how do they build and develop their careers?

Through a survey of prominent creative workers (actors, writers, and directors in film, television drama and theatre) the research aims to:

  • understand how creative workers in film, television drama and theatre enter the sector and progress their careers;
  • examine the role of public cultural subsidies in career development;
  • illuminate the extent of career mobility between the film, television and theatre sectors;
  • examine the evolution of creative clusters (e.g. drama societies, production companies, theatre groups, regional broadcasters, etc.);
  • examine the extent to which creative workers in these sectors must supplement their incomes from other sources.

The purpose of the project is to inform public policy on arts funding and to establish a methodology that might be applied to all sectors of cultural production. While the initial phase of the research involves gathering data about careers in acting, directing, screenwriting and playwrighting, later phases will broaden out to examine a wider range of film and theatre occupations, extending the enquiry into additional creative, technical, and craft careers.

Our approach reflects new directions in international research on the effectiveness of arts policy. Where previously, researchers measured success through analysing cultural consumption (e.g. through audience research), now the focus has shifted to cultural production and the interdependencies between cultural outputs. Ecologies of Cultural Production will be the first survey of its kind in Ireland, taking a ground-breaking approach to analysing the long-term effects of arts policy.

The two immediate outputs will be a one-day seminar, 'Ecologies of Cultural Production', and a written report for Creative Ireland.

The project is funded by Creative Ireland, a five-year initiative led by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Arising out of the programme’s core proposition that cultural participation drives personal and collective wellbeing, the Ecologies of Cultural Production project examines aspects of the cultural infrastructure (funding, organisations, creative labour) crucial to the cultural production necessary to encourage consumption and participation in the arts.


Principal Investigator: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton, Head of Film Studies, Trinity College Dublin bartonr@tcd.ie
Co-investigator: Emeritus Prof. John O'Hagan, Emeritus Fellow, Economics, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin johagan@tcd.ie
Lead Researcher: Dr. Denis Murphy, Film Studies, Trinity College Dublin denis.murphy@tcd.ie