Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

BCAR paper Cultural & Creative Activity

Cultural and creative activity in Australia 2008-09 to 2016-17, Working Paper, October 2018

Executive Summary

There is growing interest in quantifying the economic contribution of cultural and creative industries both in Australia and internationally. Measurement of this activity can inform policy makers about how such industries contribute to economic outcomes relative to other industries.

Cultural and creative activity is increasingly recognised as an important component of economic growth. Its contribution has the potential to grow as the economy transforms in parallel with the use of advanced technologies and the rise of automation. The economic response to a digital and technology-based transition is already evident in services such as internet publishing and computer system design which are also linked to creative activity.

The economic value of cultural and creative activity is determined by how it is defined and identified for each activity, or for both. In addition, some cultural and creative activity may not be captured fully, owing to how volunteering and non-market based production are reflected in the measurements.

While there is no universally accepted definition, the terms ‘cultural’ and ‘creative’ are often used to describe activities connected with the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion, and information technology.1 As defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), human creativity is a vital input to cultural and creative activity. Cultural activity requires human creativity as an input and may contain intellectual property to communicate symbolic meaning.2 Creative activity requires human creativity as a significant and identifiable input.2

This paper reports a times series on the economic contribution of cultural and creative activity in Australia from 2008-09 to 2016-17. The definition is based on the ABS’s Australian National Accounts: Cultural and Creative Activity Satellite Accounts (Satellite Accounts).3

The Satellite Accounts estimated the economic contribution from cultural and creative activity to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $86.0 billion in 2008-09. The main components of this activity include activity from cultural and creative industries as well as the wages and salaries, and employers’ social contributions received from cultural and creative occupations that are performed outside of these cultural and creative industries.4

Between 2008-09 and 2016-17, cultural and creative activity in Australia grew to $111.7 billion, an increase of $25.8 billion or 30.0 per cent. While this activity is growing in absolute terms, the increase is slightly slower than the pace of the Australian economy overall. As a share of GDP, cultural and creative activity declined by 0.5 percentage points, from 6.9 per cent in 2008-09 to 6.4 per cent in 2016-17.

Over that period, the Australian economy has been supported by activities relating to the mining sector, which is almost entirely outside cultural and creative activity. At the same time, some cultural and creative industries have faced increased global competition and have needed to adjust to the transition towards digital content. This has led to a decline in areas such as onshore printing and clothing manufacturing.

While parts of cultural and creative activity are shrinking as a share of GDP, other activities are outpacing the overall economy. Cultural and creative activity within professional, scientific and technical services, and education and training has increased its share within the economy over the period. These activities utilise highly skilled labour which will be increasingly important to Australia’s economic growth.

Download the full report here

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2022
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