Innovating Through Artistry

The Creative Economy is the Antidote to Wall Street Woes

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, WEBSITES & BLOGS on October 3, 2008 at 4:06 am

This article, written by Linda Naiman, Creativity at Work, appeared on her blog on Sept 25th, 2008. If the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (the UNCTAD) is noticing the impact of the creative work force now in their economic data, just imagine what we can do if we buckle down and apply ourselves under a new administration in the United State of America?


According to recent reports from the UNCTAD, the Creative Economy is undergoing unprecedented growth compared with traditional services and manufacturing.

What is the Creative Economy?

UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) defines the Creative Economy as a set of knowledge-based economic activities making intensive use of creativity to add value to intellectual assets. The Creative Economy is comprised of Creative Industries which include film, music, publishing, new media, and design, which generate income from trade and property rights. Creative occupations include engineers, educators and scientists as well as those involved in the creative arts, design and entertainment.

John Howkins, author of The Creative Economy: How People make Money from Ideas (2001), defines creative industries as “The sum total of four sectors: The copyright, the patent, trademark, and design industries – together constitute the creative industries and the creative economy.”

Economist Richard Florida, suggests that America’s [and Canada’s] workforce advantage lies in our ability to solve problems, forge new frontiers, and quickly adjust to changing economic forces. The creative economy recognizes everyone is inherently creative, and that creativity is a driving force of innovation.

Salient features of the creative global market

Forecast to grow by 10% annually
Leading sector in advanced countries
Stimulating urban regeneration of cities
New venues for developing countries leap-frog into value-added areas
Europe: the creative economy is growing 12% faster than the overall economy and employs about 4.7 million people (EC study)
UK: In 2004, 8% gross value added and 1.8 million jobs £11.6 billion in exports or 4% of balance of trade.
Denmark: In 2003, 5.3 % of GDP and 12% workforce 16% of total exports, turnover of 23.4 billion euros
USA: In 2003, 6% of GDP and 4.7 million jobs. Exports from copyright-based industries US$ 89 billion (IIPA)
Source: UNCTAD 2007 (E. dos Santos)

UNCTAD has global databank on world trade in creative products including a full report on the Creative Economy.

The UK has launched a £4.5 million Creative Economy Programme to advance creative industries. UK Culture secretary Andy Burnham says “It [the creative industry] is crucially important to the economic success of the country. The big thing is the creative industries need to move from the margins into the mainstream.” See also

From the Conference Board of Canada’s July 2008 report on Creative Economy:

According to our estimates, the economic footprint of the culture sector was valued at about $84.6 billion in 2007, or 7.4 per cent of total real GDP. For comparison, the value-added of Canada’s entire retail industry was just under 6 per cent in 2007, as noted by Hill Strategies

It is estimated that 1 million jobs are created by the cultural sector, representing 7.1 per cent of Canada’s total employment in 2007. That workforce grew by 31 per cent over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada, compared to a 20 per cent growth in the total number of employed workers.

“Not only does the arts and cultural industry make a valuable economic contribution in its own right, it also stimulates creative activity in other sectors of the economy,” Michael Bloom, vice-president of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning at the Conference Board said. “A dynamic culture sector plays a key role as a magnet for talent, enhances economic output, and acts as a catalyst for prosperity.”

In Canada, the culture sector plays a critical role in attracting people, business, and investment, and in distinguishing our country as a dynamic and exciting place to live and work. Clearly, a growing, dynamic culture sector is central to Canada’s success as a creative, knowledge-based economy. The culture sector also serves as a magnet for skilled and creative people, as Canada becomes increasingly dependent on international migration to sustain the size of its national labour force. Today, there is also growing recognition of the important linkages between arts and culture industries and urban and rural development. Innovation is driven by creativity and diversity.

— Source: Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy, July 2008

Our future depends on our ability to cultivate imagination, creativity and innovation, to foster social and economic growth, and improve our quality of life. Yet our current government has cut $60 million in funding for arts and culture programs by citing the need for good governance and the need for fiscal responsibility. This isn’t an either-or proposition. We need both.

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