Australia’s cultural and creative economy in the spotlight

AAH News A New Approach, Media release

The latest report from independent arts and culture think tank, A New Approach, shines a light on  the multi-billion dollar value of our cultural and creative economy, and its post-pandemic growth potential to 2030 and beyond.

The report being released today, Australia’s cultural and creative economy: A 21st century guide, aims to demystify Australia’s cultural and creative economy and help drive well-informed public policy settings that will maximise effective investment and return for our nation.

According to ANA program director, Kate Fielding, the report draws together key data about economic impact and employment figures.

‘As we continue to battle the impact of COVID-19, and with our nation at the crossroads, we thought it was essential to present a clearer and much more accessible view of this economic data to help us understand the opportunities.

‘This is even more important given the high priority of our governments for economic recovery and new job creation to counter the recession.’

The report highlights the total estimated value of our cultural and creative activity at $111.7 billion (6.4% of GDP) while employing more than 800,000 people (8.1% of the total workforce).

The report suggests Australia can learn lessons from other countries that have recognised the potential of their cultural and creative industries to not just stimulate their economy but to lead future economic growth and prosperity.

It encourages the Australian Government to follow the lead of many of our trading partners – India, the United Kingdom, China, Singapore, New Zealand and South Korea to name a few – who have put in place national strategies for their cultural and creative industries.

‘When other countries have seized the opportunity to design 21st century policy settings for this part of the economy in a systematic way, they have reaped the benefits. For Australia to benefit in the same way, we need to take a similar contemporary and strategic approach,’ Ms Fielding said.

The report identified design – including architectural services, fashion, graphic design, computer systems design and advertising – as the largest and fastest growing of the cultural and creative industries. The biggest decline was in literature and print media, particularly in print journalism, newspapers and magazine publishing.

‘Several findings in this report will dispel commonly-held myths, including that our arts and culture is heavily subsidised by government,’ Ms Fielding said. ‘Not true. Government investment plays an important role, but a larger proportion of revenue comes from the sale of cultural and creative goods, and ticket sales for events or attractions.

‘The other significant finding in the report that will raise eyebrows is that total paid employment in Australia’s cultural and creative industries is significantly higher (by approximately 200,000 people) than mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing combined.’

Ms Fielding is hopeful about the opportunities that could arise from the current federal parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions. ANA’s submission to the inquiry echoes the new report’s call for the urgent creation of a National Arts, Culture and Creativity Plan which would inform more coherent policy settings and investment at all levels of government.

‘Our cultural and creative industries range from film, television, design, fashion, music and museums through to literature, media and performing and visual arts and crafts. We need to pull this powerhouse of creative potential together, with governments and industry working constructively to provide a launchpad for a positive and prosperous future,’ said Ms Fielding.

The report lists eight key findings, together with eight opportunities to create a long-term and strategic approach. The report also presents five case studies which illustrate key economic issues, challenges and opportunities for Australia’s cultural and creative industries. These include: how creative skills and employment are driving the 21st century workforce; the decline of print journalism; the value of place-based approaches to cultural development; the growth of international creative education; and the success of Australia’s architectural services exports.

Australia’s cultural and creative economy: A 21st century guide is the fifth report to be released by A New Approach.

About A New Approach

ANA was established in 2018 to champion effective investment and return in Australian art and culture. It was created through a $1.65 million commitment by The Myer Foundation, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and the Keir Foundation, with lead delivery partner, the Australian Academy of the Humanities.