Taoiseach opens new consulate during visit to US city and holds meetings with range of TV and film companies
Ireland aims to become a global centre of excellence for the film and TV industry, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said, as he continued his two-day visit to Los Angeles.
Addressing a gathering of senior Irish and international film executives and actors in Beverly Hills on Thursday night, Mr Varadkar said that Irish screen industries have doubled in size in recent years, and the aim is to “double the size of the sector again.”
“Strategic government investment in Screen Ireland and Enterprise Investment is paying dividends,” Mr Varadkar said, adding that the Government has “an open ear” to requests from the sector for changes that may encourage further development, noting the amendments that had been made to the Tax Consolidation Act. He noted that government-funded films have secured 30 academy award nominations over the last 10 years, while the animation sector is thriving.
Actors Ruth Negga, Aisling Bea, Alan Leech and Jared Harris were among those in attendance at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.
Earlier on Thursday Mr Varadkar opened Ireland’s first consulate in Los Angeles, Ireland’s seventh consulate in the United States and part of the Government’s aim to expand its global footprint as part of the Global Ireland 2025 initiative.
Screen Ireland, which also announced the opening of a new office in Los Angeles next year, welcomed the opening of the consulate. Chief executive Desirée Finnegan noted that Irish production companies have built strong working relationships with the world’s leading studios, streaming platforms and production companies in the city. “There is significant potential for employment and turnover growth in the sector and strengthening our base in Los Angeles will support that mission,” she said.
Screen Ireland, formerly known as the Irish Film Board, invested almost €14 million in State funding for 50 TV and film projects last year.
Speaking at the opening of the consulate, Los Angeles’ mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed the establishment of the new diplomatic presence, noting the contribution Irish citizens had made to the city. “It is natural. LA loves Ireland, and now we see that Ireland loves LA,” he said, noting that Los Angeles was now the third largest metropolitan economy in the world, after Tokyo and New York. “The Irish names, the Irish legacy are celebrated here.”
Mr Varadkar has been holding private meetings with a range of studios, networks and streaming companies including Netflix, Hulu, Skydance and Fox Searchlight, as well as with a number of Enterprise Ireland client companies.
The audio-visual sector is worth over €1 billion to the Irish economy, with the film, TV and animation sectors accounting for almost €700 million. 12,000 people work in film, television and animation production according to a recent Olsberg/SPI report, a 50 per cent increase on 10 years ago.