Creative industries are becoming a key driver of economic growth globally. In the US, value added for arts and culture accounted for $698 billion (4.3%) of GDP and employed people in 4.7 million jobs in 2012, according to a report by the Department of Commerce. In the UK, the creative industries helped the economy by contributing an all-time high of $76.9 billion (5%) in 2013, according to a report by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
On a slightly different scale, the New Zealand creative industry contributes more than $3.6 billion annually to the local economy. The biggest employer is the film and television sector, likely helped by the fact that The Hobbit was in production when the statistics were collected in 2011.
The thing about the creative industry is that it sits at the crossroads of the arts, culture, business and technology; it provides product, export capability, employment and national recognition, which are all things that lead to greater investment; and its products have the ability to improve the quality of our lives from a very human perspective. The development of the creative industry relies on the generating of new ideas, innovation and the tenacity to bring things to life, and in my opinion, if the creative industry is growing, that’s a good sign of human progress.
The growth path for the creative industries seems positively certain, but not without challenges. John Kampfner, Head of the newly launched Creative Industries Federation in the UK, said in an interview with The Guardian that we need to be thinking long term. “…if we fail to think long term, if we fail to invest in our public spaces and cultural education, the talent pool that has projected us on to this level of the past 10 or 20 years will dry up… (We) need to be thinking not just how is our bottom line looking – how much have we sold, but also what is the state of our public arts and public education to fuel the next generation.”
The economic arguments for supporting our creative industries provide impetus for increased investment. But let’s not forget the broader argument – that our creative industries help make our countries what they are – which is a case for investment in itself.