The cultural economy and its global reach

There’s been no shortage of attention in Canada and the United States about the growing importance of creative cultural industries in economic development at a local, regional and national level.  I assumed that the rapid expansion of these industries and recognition of their economic significance was being felt more in ‘industrialized’ or ‘developed’ countries than in emerging economies. Well, I stand corrected!

In 2010 the United Nations released The Creative Economy Report, which 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.

Further evidence of a rapidly expanding cultural economy impacting countries around the world can be found in a 2012 report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) entitled Copyright + Creativity = Jobs and Economic Growth. The study reported on the economic importance of the creative industries in 30 countries around the world. The study defined the creative or ‘copyright industries’ to include: Press and Literature; Music; Theatrical Productions; Operas; Motion Picture and Video; Radio and Television; Photography; Software and Databases; Visual and Graphic Arts; Advertising Agencies and Services.

It concludes that global growth in this sector was 2.5 times faster than the average overall growth of economies in general. On average they contribute 5.4% to GDP and 5.9% to national employment.

With 40.5%, ‘Press and Literature’ is by far the biggest contributor to generating added value. The other industry drivers– Software and Databases, Radio & TV, Music & Theatre, Advertising, Motion picture and video, when combined, account for 55% of the total.

The survey also showed a strong and positive relationship between the contribution of creative industries to GDP and the existence of a well-established legal and political system where both physical and intellectual property rights are respected.