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The creative industries refers to a range of economic activities which are concerned with the generation or exploitation of knowledge and information. They may variously also be referred to as the cultural industries (especially in Europe (Hesmondhalgh 2002, p. 14)) or the creative economy (Howkins 2001).
Howkins’ creative economy comprises advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, and video games (Howkins 2001, pp. 88–117). There remain, however, different definitions of the sector (Hesmondhalgh 2002, p. 12)(DCMS 2006).Yet so far Howkins has not been internationally recognized.
The creative industries have been seen to become increasingly important to economic well-being, proponents suggesting that “human creativity is the ultimate economic resource,” (Florida 2002, p. xiii) and that “the industries of the twenty-first century will depend increasingly on the generation of knowledge through creativity and innovation,” (Landry & Bianchini 1995, p. 4).
Definitions of the creative industries
Various definitions on what activities to include in the creative industries have been suggested (DCMS 2001, p. 04)(Hesmondhalgh 2002, p. 12)(Howkins 2001, pp. 88–117)(UNCTAD 2008, pp. 11–12) and even the name itself is a contested issue – there being significant differences and overlap between the terms ‘creative industries’, ‘cultural industries’ and ‘creative economy’ (Hesmondhalgh 2002, pp. 11–14)(UNCTAD 2008, p. 12).
Lash and Urry suggest that each of the creative industries has an ‘irreducible core’ concerned with “the exchange of finance for rights in intellectual property,” (Lash & Urry 1994, p. 117). This echoes the UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) definition which describes the creative industries as:
- “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” (DCMS 2001, p. 04)
- Economic contribution
- Globally, Creative Industries excluding software and general scientific research and development are said to have accounted for around 4% of the world’s economic output in 1999, which is the last year for which comprehensive figures are currently available. Estimates of the output corresponding to scientific Research and Development suggest that an additional 4-9% might be attributable to the sector if its definition is extended to include such activities, though the figures vary significantly between different countries.
Taking the UK as an example, in the context of other sectors, the creative industries make a far more significant contribution to output than hospitality or utilities and deliver four times the output due to agriculture, fisheries and forestry. In terms of employment and depending on the definition of activities included, the sector is a major employer of between 4-6% of the UK’s working population, though this is still significantly less than employment due to traditional areas of work such as retail and manufacturing.
Within the creative industries sector and again taking the UK as an example, the three largest sub-sectors are design, publishing, and television and radio. Together these account for around 75% of revenues and 50% of employment.
The complex supply chains in the creative industries sometimes make it challenging to calculate accurate figures for the gross value added by each sub-sector. This is particularly the case for the service-focused sub-sectors such as advertising, whereas it is more straightforward in product-focused sub-sectors such as crafts. Not surprisingly, perhaps, competition in product-focused areas tends to be more intense with a tendency to drive the production end of the supply chain to become a commodity business.
There may be a tendency for publicly-funded creative industries development services to inaccurately estimate the number of creative businesses during the mapping process. There is also imprecision in nearly all tax code systems that determine a person’s profession, since many creative people operate simultaneously in multiple roles and jobs. Both these factors mean that official statistics relating to the Creative Industries should be treated with caution.