Ecologies of Cultural Production


Ecologies of Cultural Production Report published by Creative Ireland

College peer groups, advertising, theatre and public funding all contribute to a successful career in film and television. Research undertaken by Trinity College Dublin, supported by National Creativity Fund (part of the Creative Ireland Programme), has thrown a new light on the career paths of some of Ireland's most successful theatre, television and film actors and directors. The 15 month research project was led by Associate Professor Ruth Barton and Research Fellow Dr Denis Murphy of the Department of Film, School of Creative Arts, Trinity College. Full report and findings available via Creative Ireland website.



Public workshop, Monday 2 September 2019, Trinity Long Room Hub

On Monday, 2 September, we held a public workshop in Trinity Long Room Hub to discuss issues arising out of this project and to share our preliminary findings. The launch of the initial findings were preceded by moderated panels comprised of industry and academic speakers.

Video recordings of the proceedings are available here:

Ecologies of Cultural Production Workshop: Industry Panel

Industry panel with Ed Guiney (Element Pictures), Anne Clarke (Landmark Productions), and Willie White (Dublin Theatre Festival)

Ecologies of Cultural Production Workshop: Keynote Address

Keynote address with Dr. Caitriona Noonan (Cardiff University)

Ecologies of Cultural Production: Preliminary Research Findings

Research findings presentation with Dr. Ruth Barton and Dr. Denis Murphy, School of Creative Arts, Trinity College Dublin.

Careers in film and theatre: Q&A with industry panel

Ed Guiney (Element Pictures), Anne Clarke (Landmark Productions), and Willie White (Dublin Theatre Festival) shared some of their own professional experiences in the Irish film and theatre industries. The panellists then discussed issues around training, talent development, diversity, precarious work and the future of the Irish film and theatre sectors.

Keynote: Building a Sustainable Creative Labour Market: challenges for policy-making, industry and academia

Drawing on recent research into screen production in small European states, Caitriona Noonan explored the aspiration to build a robust, mobile and responsive creative industries workforce. This session outlined some of the challenges to achieving this goal and traces the structural weaknesses at different stages of the labour process, from education and access, to diversity and regionality.

Presentation of initial results

Ruth Barton (Trinity College Dublin) presented the backdrop to the Ecologies of Cultural Production research project on career construction in Irish film, television drama and theatre, funded by Creative Ireland. Denis Murphy then presented an outline of the research design and some preliminary findings.

All sessions concluded with an audience-led general discussion.

For further information about the project, please contact Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton


Ecologies of Cultural Production Poster

Ecologies of Cultural Production is a research project based in Film 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?

The project is funded by Creative Ireland's National Creativity Fund, 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.

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 playwriting, 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.

Two immediate outputs are the one-day seminar, 'Ecologies of Cultural Production', outlined above and a written report submitted to Creative Ireland.

Principal Investigator: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton, Head of School, School of Creative Arts, Trinity
Co-investigator: Emeritus Prof. John O'Hagan, Emeritus Fellow, Economics, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity
Lead Researcher: Dr. Denis Murphy, Film Studies, Trinity