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Visual Design
Start date: Dec 31, 2002, End date: Dec 30, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project is focused on developing a cross border craft cluster between Visual Leitrim, Co Leitrim and Island Design, Lisburn Co Antrim. The inception of this cluster, Visual Design, will aim to strenghen the craft sector in Lisburn and Co Leitrim, making the regions nationally and internationally competitive. Achievements: Arts and craft have had a long history as a socially important activity in Ireland. Craft enterprises not only recognise the social importance of their trades but also contribute significantly to the economy on both sides of the border. Irish craft businesses are characteristically small in scale and are geographically widespread, but taken nationally, the industry is a significant employer. The craft industrys major cultural and social impact is as significant as its economic influence.However the national and global marketplace for this sector has changed dramatically in recent years resulting in an ever increasing need to equip the craft sector with the information and skills needed to prosper in this dynamic environment. Visual Design was a programme of activity designed to bring the craft workers of Lisburn and Leitrim together with the aim of creating a strong and sustainable craft cluster. The project was a cross-border partnership between Glenwood Business Centre and County Leitrim Enterprise Board and included a combination of business residential and training workshops, best practice visits and business development events. Added to this the participants were given practical skills and marketing support tools including exhibition materials and an interactive website.The project enabled 20 creative enterprises from Leitrim and Lisburn to participate in training and business development projects specific to the needs of their businesses. The craft workers and designers of Visual Design all work out of studios and workshops, the majority of which are rurally located throughout Co Leitrim and Antrim. Through direct selling, exhibition opportunities and cross border collaborations the works of Visual design has become more widespread and has opened up new markets North and South of the Boarder.One participant Angela Hope setup her handbag company in 2002. Like many creative artists Angela found that working alone in a rural setting, though idyllic, could be isolating and frustrating at times. Through her participation on Visual Design she has overcome these issues and forged new relationships and have provided her with collaboration opportunities and enhanced her marketing and sales performance. Working in collaboration with other like minded people allows you to develop products that you might otherwise not have thought of. It also means you can share costs of joint promotional opportunities and benefit from avenues of PR that might otherwise be closed to you, explains Angela. Of the 20 businesses that participated in the programme 96% stated that their participation gave them the opportunity to share the principles of best practice and 75% reported that the programme had contributed to their increasing sales levels. Nikki Terlik produces her own jewellery range. She commented, I was delighted to have generated sales of £800 at one of the craft fairs organised as part of the Visual Design programme Certainly the Visual Design Programme has created strong personal relationships and networks at an individual level and these have given rise to activities, which have benefited the craft sector between the regions. Theinvestment by INTERREG IIIA has contributed to the sustainability of the craft sector in Co Leitrim and Co Antrim, supporting creative artists in the production of more creative, authentic and unique products that are design led and customer focused.
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