Inaugural IrelandWeek connect353 Conference an Unparalleled Success

Inaugural IrelandWeek centerpiece, connect353 Conference, is an unparalleled success featuring leaders from Government, Trade, Film, TV, Animation and Technology sectors.

Inaugural IrelandWeek welcomes Stars Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman

In a week of firsts, the inaugural showcase celebration of Irish business and culture, IrelandWeek ( brought a star-studded, powerhouse conference to its centerpiece, connect353.

Taking place at Los Angeles’ famed Regal Cinemas @LA Live, connect353 attracted an extraordinary group of industry leaders — from speakers to attendees. The exclusive presentations opened with Ireland and the World Economy: International Trade, Finance and the Brexit Effect with Irish Minister of State Michael D’Arcy TD and Irish Ambassador to the USA, Dan Mulhall. Minister D’Arcy noted, “Creativity links Ireland and Los Angeles closely,” a sentiment unanimously held by all connect353 speakers.

We had a great experience shooting Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Ireland. No matter where we went — Skellig Michael Island, Donegal and West Cork — the locals welcomed us, despite the inconvenience we were creating. I'm sure it would have been more economical to shoot on a soundstage, but it was so worth it to do it the way we did it.

Rian Johnson, Director, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman then took the stage, sharing their experiences filming Star Wars: Last Jedi in Ireland. “We had a great experience working with the locals at every location,” said Johnson, while Bergman continued with, “the disruption we caused to these small towns on the #StarWarsTheLastJedi shoot was huge but the locals always supported us.”

The day continued with Tourism in Ireland; Ireland’s Innovation and Creativity; Gaming: Serious Game Play; the Cultural Reach: Arts, Music, Culture, and Education: Connecting the Dots; Ireland: Where Animation Happens; Making of The Breadwinner by Oscar-nominated Cartoon Saloon; and TV: Ireland’s Growing International Success Stories were shared by Showtime’s Melinda Benedek, VP Business Affairs on using Ireland as a location for the Tudors and Penny Dreadful. “A place stars want to visit and good infrastructure are key considerations when choosing a location. Ireland is strong in both.”

Hollywood Reporter’s Ten Rising Irish Stars rounded out the day with IT Crowd / Bridesmaids and the newly released hit series on Epix, Get Shorty star, Chris O’Dowd.

Photos from IrelandWeek’s connect353 (photo credit Dean Machin, Event Image Services):

Additional guests and sponsors included: Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Irish Film Board, Culture Ireland, Creative Ireland, IDA Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Aer Lingus, The Ireland Funds, The California Irish Legislative Caucus, Kensington Caterers, Bank of Ireland Global Payments, Grant Thornton, Silicon Valley Bank and the Irish Times Abroad.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade focuses on serving the Irish public, both at home and abroad, by providing a range of services to Irish citizens and work hard to ensure the promotion and protection of Ireland’s interests in the world, contributing to international priorities such as peace, security
and the eradication of poverty and hunger. For more information please visit

The role of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television, and animation industry, investing in talent, creativity, and enterprise. The agency supports writers, directors and production companies across these sectors by providing investment loans for the development, production, and distribution of film, television and animation projects. For more information please visit

Culture Ireland promotes Irish arts worldwide by creating and supporting opportunities for Irish artists and companies to present and promote their work at strategic international festivals and venues. They develop platforms to present outstanding Irish work to international audiences, through showcases at key global art events, including the Edinburgh Festivals and the Venice Biennales. For more information please visit

Creative Ireland is a culture-based programme designed to promote individual, community and national well-being. The core proposition is that participation in cultural activity drives personal and collective creativity, with significant implications for individual and societal well-being and achievement. For more information please visit

Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, the IDA, is a non-commercial, semi-state body promoting Foreign Direct Investment into Ireland through a wide range of services by partnering with potential and existing investors to help them establish or expand their operations in Ireland. For more information please visit

Tourism Ireland is responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas as a holiday and business tourism destination by delivering world-class marketing programmes in 23 markets across the world and reach a global audience up to 600 million each year. Targeted marketing activity includes advertising online, on TV and outdoor sites, in cinemas and in newspapers and magazines, eMarketing, overseas publicity, co-operative marketing with carriers and other partners and promotions to the travel trade and consumers. For more information please visit

ABOUT ENTERPRISE IRELAND Enterprise Ireland is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets by working in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. In this way, they support sustainable economic growth, regional development, and secure employment. You can find detailed information on Enterprise Ireland's activities, strategy, and performance in our Reports and Publications. For more information please visit

Music From Ireland is the Irish music export office run by First Music Contact in partnership with Culture Ireland which funds and presents the Irish showcases at large international music conferences. For more information please visit

The O’Neill Group Inc. (ONG) is a full-service Conference, Event and Meeting management company specializing in producing high-quality world-class events for corporations and nonprofits both in the U.S. and internationally with a particular emphasis on Ireland operating since 1999. For more information please visit

Source: IrelandWeek

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