Creative Island

the creative economy

The Creative Economy

Governments, creative sectors and communities across the world are increasingly recognising the creative economy as an important generator of jobs, prosperity and cultural engagement.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) defines the creative economy as “an emerging concept dealing with the interface between creativity, culture, economics and technology in a contemporary world dominated by images, sounds, texts and symbols.”

As drivers of growth, creativity and culture are recognised mainly for the economic value they generate in terms of job creation. However, the driving forces of this economy are creativity and knowledge, which stimulate the emergence of new ideas, technologies and support innovation.

Facts & Figures

  • Australia’s creative industries contribute more than $90 billion to our economy annually in turnover, added more than $45 billion to GDP and generated annual exports of $3.2 billion. *
  • In 2011 there were more than 600,000 people working in the creative industries in Australia and over 120,000 creative businesses. Creative Industries employ 3.5% of the Australian workforce. Additionally there are many volunteers who go unaccounted for.*
  • More than 9000 Tasmanians are directly employed in the cultural and creative industries with countless more indirectly employed through the related tourism, hospitality and retails sectors.*
  • In 2011, 3.1 per cent of working Tasmanians were employed in the cultural and creative industries.
  • The cultural and creative industries’ value add is 2.8 per cent.
  • In 2009, 11 million people visited an art gallery. To give that number context, it’s more people than went to the AFL and NRL combined.
  • The cultural industries employ more people than mining does.
  • 85% of Australians believe art enriches their lives.*
  • 95% of Australians were involved with the arts in the last 12 months (covering visual arts and crafts, music, theatre, dance and literature, community and Indigenous arts)*
  • 89% of Australians believe art is an important part of education.*
  • 2012 The Live Performance Industry (which covers music, musical theatre, opera and dance) generated revenues of over $2.5bn in Australia. Total profits and wages (for performing and support staff) amounted to $1.53bn, while also employing thousands of Australians.

A Creative Economy Is The Fuel Of Magnificence

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1802-1882)

Defining The Cultural & Creative Industries

The cultural and creative industries are more than just buzzwords. They are situated at the core of the creative economy and intersect the arts, economics, culture, industry and technology. The cultural and creative industries are relatively new concepts, which have been adopted in response to rapid technological developments, globalisation and changes to markets, which have blurred the traditional divide between creative and commercial activities.

The cultural industries are defined by UNESCO as:

“industries that combine the creation, production and commercialisation of contents which are intangible and cultural in nature; these contents are typically protected by copyright and they can take the form of a good or a service. Therefore the cultural industries embody or convey cultural expressions, irrespective of the commercial value that may have.”


UNESCO identifies the cultural and creative industries as operating across six direct domains and two related domains.

  • The direct domains are:

    1. Cultural and natural heritage (including museums, archaeological and historical places, cultural landscapes, natural heritage)
    2. Performance and celebration: (including performing arts, music, festivals, fairs and feasts)
    3. Visual arts and crafts (fine arts, photography, crafts)
    4. Books and print media (books, newspapers and magazines, other printed matter, virtual publishing, libraries, book fairs)
    5. Audiovisual and interactive media: (including film and video, television and radio, Internet TV and podcasting, video games)
    6. Design and creative services (including fashion design, graphic design, interior design, landscape design, architectural services, advertising services)


  • In addition, they identify two related domains:

    1. Tourism, hospitality and accommodation
    2. Sports and recreation (including amusement parks, theme parks and gambling)

What we find within this framework is that the cultural and creative industries sit within a complex ecology of activities, which have elements that are connected and those that are profoundly different.

Cultural & Creative Sectors

The UNESCO definition and sector framework for the cultural and creative industries has been widely adopted by other countries, with sectors adapted to fit local commercial and cultural ecosystems. Creative Tasmania has adapted this framework to suit the unique Tasmania model with cultural and creative industries classified into the following sectors:

  • Music + Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts + Crafts
  • Architecture + Design
  • Literature + Media + Publishing
  • Screen, Radio + Television
  • Advertising + Marketing
  • Festivals, Events + Museums
  • Online + Interactive Entertainment

What we find within this framework is that the cultural and creative industries sit within a complex ecology of activities, which have elements that are connected and those that are profoundly different.

In December 2015, The Minister for the Arts released:

The strategy articulates 26 actions for growing Tasmania’s cultural and creative industries across six strategic areas:

  • Sector leadership
  • Building Tasmania’s brand
  • Visitor economy
  • Industry development
  • Innovation, training and education
  • Place and participation

The Government has stated that the Strategy will be implemented in consultation with the industry and the Tasmanian community and in partnership with the peak industry body, Tasmanian Creative Industries.

Whatever Good Things We Build, End Up Building Us

Jim Rohn