Creative Economy Report 2013: Widening Local Development Pathways

In a previous blog I reported on findings from the 2010 the United Nations report The Creative Economy Report built on a 3-year international study of growth in cultural goods and services. The report defines the broader creative economy as existing ‘at the crossroads of the arts, culture, business and technology.’ The report concludes that creative goods and services have grown at an average annual rate of 14% over the past 6 years, with the potential to become one of the most dynamic sectors of the world economy.

UNESCO has just released a follow-up study Creative Economy Report 2013: Widening Local Development Pathways. The focus of the Report is on the creative economy at a local and regional scale in developing countries. As with the 2010 version, it is co-published by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Report is organized in two volumes: a policy report and a web-documentary that of case studies and stories related to opportunities and challenges of creative economy “on the ground.”
On the policy side, the creative economy is defined to include audiovisual products, design, new media, performing arts, publishing and visual arts. The Report found that world trade of creative goods and services totaled a record of US$ 624 billion in 2011 and more than doubled from 2002 to 2011. Between 2002 and 2011, developing-countries averaged 12.1 per cent annual growth in exports of creative goods.

The subtitle of the report “Widening Local Development Pathways” points to a larger agenda. An important distinction is make between culture as a driver of development though the creative and cultural industries and culture as an enabler of development empowering people to take control of their own development through a people-centred and place-based approach. Cities are identified as important actors in developing the creative economy with integrated approaches required engaging all departments and areas of planning in local governance. These are core assumptions in cultural planning in my own work.

The Report provides some country-by-country findings. In Argentina for example, it describes the cultural and creative industries employing some 300,000 people representing 3.5 per cent of the country’s GDP. In Morocco, publishing and printing employ 1.8 per cent of the labour force, with a turnover of more than US$ 370 million. The market value of the music industry was more than US$ 54 million in 2009 and has increased steadily since. In Bangkok, Thailand, there are over 20,000 businesses in the fashion industry alone, while across the region, young people are earning a living as small-scale designers.

The Report puts forward ten key recommendations with a view to forging new cultural pathways to development. The research findings are intended to engage a wider international discussion on the United Nation’s development agenda and the role of culture in sustainable development.