Let me tell you a little bit about myself, Ian Oliver from CFCP | Centre for Creative Practices
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Let me tell you a little bit about me

Giving people the building blocks to build creative careers

Today I am giving a talk in Bratislava, Slovakia.  I was asked by the Slovak Government to present a paper on Developing Talent and my focus is on Creative Entrepreneurship Education and how we can build sustainable careers in the creative sector.

However, I’d like to start by telling you a little bit about myself, my name is Ian Oliver and I am Head of Creative Entrepreneurship at the Centre for Creative Practices in Dublin.


My passion is to work with creatives, creative businesses and Development organisations to build sustainable projects and careers in the creative sector.

And also to use Creativity as a major driver for regional and national economic growth.

Now I know that the notion of sustainability does not sit well with everyone, particularly with some members of the Creative and Cultural Sector.

But as Tony Robbins says,

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus.”

Let me say that I am NOT talking about the notion that creatives do not work on their practice, of course they do, otherwise we wouldn’t see their amazing works in so many places.

What I AM talking about is the additional skills that are needed to help creatives have fulfilling careers, as to be honest, the lack of any basic entrepreneurial education taught in art colleges and schools at present is appalling.

slide03We’ve all probably, at some time or other, wanted to be a rock star, we learnt to play guitar, sing, we’ve found a drummer and formed a band, but that doesn’t make us a rock star. To be a rock star it means we not only have to star at rock but also we have to commit to it as to our profession, to earn our living from it.

That sounds completely obvious to most, but is that really the case with everyone working in the creative sector?

Let me tell you, it wasn’t always that obvious to me.  I will give you some background to explain it better. I have worked in the Creative sector for over 20 years as a freelancer, volunteer, some paid, some semi-paid, some free, until I found myself working in the Irish Writers’ Centre on Dublin’s Parnell Square.

It’s December 2008, I have been Courses and Communication Manager at the centre for 5 years, when the director receives a letter from the Arts Council.  This particular letter arrives at this particular time each year and announces our funding for the next year. This year however, it was different, the contents were shattering, next year, 2009, our funding from the Arts Council of Ireland will go from €200,000 to zero – no debate, no recourse, no feedback.

Without this funding there was no way that the Writers’ Centre could continue its work. We did generate a bit of additional income ourselves but that bore no relation to the costs we had to keep the programme, the services and the space going.

We just couldn’t afford to stay. The three people employed in the Centre finished in February 2009.

I was furious that an organisation with such a track record, respect and potential may have to close due to one of its sources of funding drying up.

Soon after this I decided to try, and to fail better, and in September 2009 my partner Monika and myself opened the Centre for Creative Practices with an ambition to run an independent, non-commercial arts centre that was sustainable. Now I have to say it did not work out the way we intended but we learned a lot about sustainability, or rather the lack of it in the creative sector along the way.

CFCP soon became known is the only arts organisation in Ireland dedicated to connecting, integrating and promoting migrant, experimental and emerging creatives among the local arts scene.

We were winners of the Arthur Guinness Fund in 2012, named in the Purpose Economy 100 for Europe in 2014, awarded the Multicultural Company of the Year and Shortlisted as Dublin’s Gallery of the Year both in 2011. We received financial support from the Arts Council of Ireland & Dublin City Council.

slide04We ran on average 15 events per month, with a total of over 700 events, engaged with around 1,500 creatives and 16,000 audiences over the course of the space’s lifetime.

And it took us almost three years to dare to price our concert tickets at €10 and to increase our venue hire rent to an “extortionate” €120 per day.

Yes, we were afraid, afraid to realistically price our work, afraid people wouldn’t come, afraid that people couldn’t afford it.  Did we ask them? No, we just assumed it.  We worked in the creative sector and it was more about showing something than making a living from it, or so we thought.

Moreover, through our contact with over 1500 artists we realised that well over 90% of them suffered from the same conditions and false notions that we did, that we cannot expect our audiences or customers to pay realistic prices or to pay at all.

We were not alone then, most of the sector lacked the skills to run a successful creative business or build a sustainable career. Therefore our overriding mission became to acknowledge the fact that we all needed help, irrespective of where on the path we are.

Now CFCP is one of the European leaders in creative entrepreneurship training.  We have developed and implemented physical and online training programmes, and mentoring in the creative industries for over 1000 creatives and 250 creative organisations since 2013.

When we are back from Slovakia on Wednesday (coming back to Dublin via Madrid as it was by far the cheapest option) I will continue with my thoughts on where Entrepreneurship Education is at the moment in relation to 3rd level institutions and more….

Till Wednesday

Read more about Creative Entrepreneurship

Valentines Edition – New Voices of Ireland 4

Celebrate with us a different & very social Valentines evening! Enjoy a participatory, frivolous performance, dream while listening to a heart-warming poetry reading. Celebrate your mate, great company of other people, a really cool venue and a glass of your favourite drink from the pub downstairs.
Catch up with old CFCP friends, meet new people and spend the night in he-arty style.
We are looking forward to seeing you in the Harbour Bar!

Giving Creatives & Artists the Opportunity to Build Sustainable Careers

What I AM talking about here is the entrepreneurial skills creatives need to provide fulfilling sustainable careers, as to be honest, the lack of any basic entrepreneurial education taught in art colleges and schools at present is appalling.

Giving Creatives & Artists the Opportunity to Build Sustainable Careers

What I AM talking about here is the entrepreneurial skills creatives need to provide fulfilling sustainable careers, as to be honest, the lack of any basic entrepreneurial education taught in art colleges and schools at present is appalling.

Creative & Artistic Entrepreneurs Academy

CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURS ACADEMY bridges two apparently remote poles of human activities – CREATIVITY & BUSINESS to combat unemployment, create new jobs, support development & personal growth.

CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURS ACADEMY at the Centre for Creative Practices is the first entrepreneurial offline and online development programme which combines a physical space for desk / office sharing, an incubator programme, and accelerator programme and access to other creatives, funders, mentors, resources for CREATIVES in Ireland helping them to become successful and sustainable entrepreneurs.

Creative Entrepreneurs Training

Creative Entrepreneurs Intensive Training Programme

3 - 5 February 2017

Ashford, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Early Bird Price €250 till 31 December 2016 then €300

You know that feeling? You want to develop your creative or artistic practice and give it some structure. But there is never enough time or resources to focus on the business side of your practice. On the other hand it drives you mad that it doesn’t work as it could and should. You are not making enough sales, not getting enough contracts or you simply do not know how to start to build a sustainable creative career.

We have been there ourselves and know exactly how frustrating it can be. All we can recommend to you is to STOP, take 2.5 days out and join us for our intensive Creative Entrepreneurs Training Programme.

You will spend this time working on the business side of your creative practice. Together with you we will (re)define where you are right now with your creative business and where you want to be. You will formulate goals and steps to take with the primary focus on your specific creative niche.


CFCP Creative Entrepreneurs Academy

What people say about the CFCP Creative Entrepreneurs Academy