‘Creative industries' is a relatively new phrase in government policy, industry and academic discourse. In
Australia, the term has been used for perhaps a little over 10 years. The conceptualisation of the creative
industries however, has been a long and evolutionary process.
The creative industries include, but are not limited to, those economic activities that are characterised by
new forms of cultural production. Centred on activities originating from innovation and ideas, their economic
value lies in their intellectual property. In other words, ‘creativity' is their primary source of value.
The development of the creative industries has been government (policy)-led rather than industry-led. The
conceptualisation of the creative industries was, in large part, a response to the perceived limitations of
cultural policy in facilitating new economic development opportunities. This is because creative industries
represent an eclectic grouping of interrelated, unrelated, collaborative and competing individuals and
enterprises which "can claim to capture significant ‘new economy' enterprise dynamics that such terms as
‘the arts' and ‘cultural industries' do not". (1)
The evolutionary process which generated the creative industries concept began to take shape in the 1930s
and ‘40s with the Frankfurt school of thought's ‘Culture Industry' concept. This was used by its proponents
as an expression of contempt for popular culture (newspapers, movies, magazines, etc.) and the way in
which capitalist forces, particularly in the United States, consumerised culture for the mass market. It was
argued that ‘culture' and ‘industry' were supposed to be opposites but in modern capitalist society, the two
had collapsed together - hence the term ‘Culture Industry'.
In the 1970s the term ‘cultural industries' gained prominence in the public policy sphere. The concept was
used to persuade governments to support arts and culture for the economic benefits they deliver to communities.
During this period, popular commercial industries like film and television typically sat under the ‘cultural policy'
umbrella. The development of the cultural industries was also facilitated by a global economic transition away
from declining industries like manufacturing towards the more prosperous service sectors.
By the mid to late 1990s, the concept of the cultural industries was broadened to the ‘creative industries'. The
concept was effectively invented to overcome a too narrow articulation of policy towards the arts and culture
and, perhaps more importantly, in recognition of a need to develop a stronger policy nexus between cultural
policy and economic development outcomes. The continued transition in developed economies towards new
and emerging service sectors of growth facilitated the emergence of the creative industries.
There are undoubted continuities and interrelationships between cultural and creative industries. However,
while the creative industries represent what is a marked shift away from the government subsidised ‘arts' to
new and more diverse applications of creativity, the creative industries can be distinguished for their propensity
to take advantage of, and become part of, the new ‘knowledge economy'.
Since the end of the 1990s, when the UK Government first identified and then established policy in support
of the creative industries, the definition of exactly which industries qualify as being ‘creative' has been reviewed
and refined and with this a significant body of data and accompanying analysis has been produced, much of
it by the Creative Industries Innovation Centre at Queensland University of Technology. In Australia, the
accepted definition of ‘creative industries', at least for the purpose of statistical analysis, consists of:
• Music and performing arts;
• Film, television and radio;
• Advertising and marketing;
• Software development and interactive content;
• Writing, publishing and print media; and
• Architecture, design and visual arts. (2)
This is a fairly common grouping and is used in cities as distant and different to one another as Perth, Adelaide,
Singapore, Brisbane, London and New York. According to the ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries
and Innovation (3), the creative industries collectively contribute around $31 billion to Australia's GDP.
Over 11 years to 2007/08, Australia's creative industries have grown by 5.8%, almost twice the rate of growth
experienced economy-wide over the same period.
With the arts and cultural policy being, for the most part, ‘institution'-based, creative industries are enterprise
and industry-based. They are often micro-businesses, SMEs or sole operators - the ‘creative entrepreneurs'
who work (or ‘create') alone, what Leadbeater and Oakley (4) called a "new breed of Independents".
Creative industries can be very large, helping to drive employ ent creation, exports and economic growth.
Australia's film, television, software development and interactive media sectors, worth almost $20 billion combined,
are evidence of this. (5)
While standard industry categorisations are valid and useful for the purpose of statistical analysis, ‘creativity'
extends beyond rigid industry groupings. As Hartley (6) notes, the creative industries depend on "some
decidedly anti-industrial folk". Rather than being separate sectors of the economy, creative industries are
a pervasive input to many, if not all industries.
Creatives provide inputs that are central to businesses across many industries, from manufacturing and
construction to retailing and entertainment. Representing what is in effect, a ‘creative services economy',
they add value to production through design, technical performance, packaging and branding. This
‘post-industrial' form of economic organisation has provided opportunities or the creative practitioner,
whose imagination and ideas are sought by firms and organisations who value the edge it gives them in the
marketplace. It also provides something valued by the creative practitioner who can use it "as a route to
self expression and job satisfaction". (7)
Creative practitioners in the 21st Century operate outside as well as within the framework of the enterprise
and industry. For many creatives, particularly the ‘independents' and those co-creators who are finding and
using new platforms including blog sites, social networking sites and interactive media sites to show their
wares and gain valuable experience, the creative industries framework provides pportunities to ‘fast-track'
the promotion of their talent to the world.
This new dynamic means that creative industries have not only economic, but social and cultural implications
too. For one, creatives can contribute to the social, cultural and economic value of the media products and
experiences provided by blogs and other platforms like YouTube through their very participatory nature.
Another social as well as cultural implication of the emergence of creative industries is that they have helped
to reaffirm ‘place' as a driver of local community and economic development. This has been acknowledged by
policy-makers, particularly urban planners who recognise the contribution that creative entrepreneurs and
creative enterprises can make to urban renewal and revitalisation. In Australia, the emergence of new research,
learning and employment nodes like Queensland University of Technology's creative industries precinct
demonstrates interrelationships between economic development, education, housing, urban planning and
cultural policies that are far more developed than they once were.
As stated at the outset, the conceptualisation of the creative industries has been policy-led. But as the
creative economy continues to evolve - with the emergence of the creativeservices economy, the creative citizen,
co-creation and of course, constantly changing technologies - governments need to continue to engage with and
understand emerging and established creatives. This is essential if policy-makers, who invented the
‘creative industries' concept in the first place, are to keep pace with their creation to help deliver
infrastructure, services and support programs necessary to support thriving local and regional communities
in a 21st Century knowledge economy.
Footnotes and references
1. Cunningham, Stuart D. (2002). From cultural to creative industries: Theory,
industry, and policy implications. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture
and Policy (102), pp. 54-65.
2.,& 5. Centre for International Economics (June 2009). Creative Industries Economic
Analysis, Final Report. Enterprise Connect and the Creative Industries Innovation Centre.
3. ARC Centre of Excellence For Creative Industries And Innovation (April 2010).
Creative Economy Report Card 2010. Creative Industries Innovation Centre.
4. Leadbeater, C. And Oakley, K. (1999) ‘Why Cultural Entrepreneurs Matter', in John
Hartley (ed), Creative Industries. Blackwell (2005), pp. 299-311.
6. Hartley, John. ‘Creative Industries', in John Hartley (ed), Creative Industries.
Blackwell (2005), pp. 1-40.
7. Department of State Development (2004). Creativity is Big Business. A Framework
for the Future. Queensland Government.
Lennon, S., Hearn, G., Higgs, P. And Ninan, A. (2005). Mapping Queensland's
Creative Industries: Economic Fundamentals. CIRAC, Qld University of Technology.
Telesis Consulting, ARC Centre of Excellence For Creative Industries And
Innovation, SGS Economics and Planning and Designer Futures (2007). Perth's
Creative Industries - An Analysis. City of Perth, Dept of Culture and the Arts, Dept of
Industry and Resources and Dept.of the Premier and Cabinet.