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Creative Economy Lifts Australia

April 13, 2010

Australia’s $31 billion creative economy is powering ahead, making a real contribution to the nation’s economic performance and flexibility, according to a new report.

The Creative Economy Report Card was released today by the ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) and is the first in a regular series analyzing the dynamics and contribution of the creative sector ““ one of the fastest growing elements in the overall economy over the past two decades.

“The creative sector is one of the driving forces of post-industrial society. It is now recognized around the world as a key element in national economic performance, employment, education and creativity. It has come into even greater prominence in the UK, for example, as the financial sector has suffered such a huge downturn” says CCI director Professor Stuart Cunningham.

“With nearly half a million workers in Australia ““ one of the largest workforces in the economy ““ it is as mainstream as mining, manufacturing, retail, farming and other sectors which play a key role in our daily lives and our prosperity.”

The creative sector encompasses advertising and marketing, architecture, design and visual arts, film, TV and radio, music and performing arts, publishing, software and digital content.

According to the initial Creative Economy Report Card, launched to coincide with the Creative3 international conference in Brisbane this week (April 14-16), Australia’s creative sector:

“¢ Is worth $31.1 billion (in 2007/08)
“¢ Employs 487,000 individuals, or 5.3 per cent of the workforce, in both the creative and other industries
“¢ Operates 155,000 registered businesses, 60 per cent of which are sole trader enterprises
“¢ Generates 7% of all Australian earnings
“¢ Has shown long-term growth rates of 5.8 per cent over the past twenty years, roughly double those of the economy as a whole.
“¢ Runs at a trade deficit of about 2:1.

“The Report Card shows the creative sector is now a force to be reckoned in terms of our national economic performance over time ““ besides helping to define who Australians are as a people,” says Professor Cunningham.

“For example while there are about 141,000 creative people employed in the creative industries like the arts, music and TV, there are another 171,000 creatives employed by governments, banks, manufacturers, the education sector and so on. We call these “Ëœembedded creatives’.

“Then for every creative in the creative industries there is at least one other worker employed ““ and this results in a combined “Ëœcreative workforce’ which is fast approaching half a million people, one of the largest sector workforces in the economy.”

Creative workers are mainly employed in capital cities (84-89 per cent) with the exception of Queensland where 38% of the creative workforce resides outside the capital.

“Growth in the creative sector has been strong for about two decades, averaging around 5.8 per cent. In the last few years it was around 3.8 per cent, reflecting both the global downturn and the maturing of the sector as a whole.

“In particular there has been some shrinkage of the arts and performing arts recently.”

Professor Cunningham notes that the creative sector’s trade balance is a deficit of about two-to-one, leaving plenty of scope to expand Australian creative exports to offset the high level of creative content currently being imported.

“On the other hand, this also indicates the strong demand which Australians have for creative output from all around the world, and is a healthy reflection on the national character as well as the opportunities for our own creatives,” he says.

Professor Cunningham says that CCI plans to issue the Creative Sector Report Card at regular intervals with a focus on different aspects of the creative economy each time.

The ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) is helping to build a creative Australia through cutting edge research spanning the creative industries, media and communications, arts, cultural studies, law, information technology, education and business.

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