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The Future of the Creative Economy

New report commissioned by Netflix

What is the creative economy?

The creative economy is an ecosystem that comprises a wide range of occupations distinguished by the generation of wealth and jobs through individual creativity driving the generation and use of intellectual property. It includes both:

  • The creative industries, including film and TV; publishing; museums; music and the performing arts; computer programming; crafts; and architecture and design; and
  • Those working outside those creative industries, but still working in creative occupations.

How large is the creative economy?

The creative economy is large and growing. New analysis in a report written by Deloitte and commissioned by Netflix looks at six large economies in Europe: Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey; and three large economies in Asia Pacific (APAC): Japan, South Korea and Australia. It finds that the creative economy employed nearly 20 million people across those nine economies in 2018.

Across those nine economies, creative economy employment represents around 7% of total employment. The creative economy has been growing faster than the wider economy in all nine countries and total creative economy employment is up 4 million from 2011.

How could the creative economy grow in the future?

Over the longer term, the creative economy is likely to be a key driver of economic growth as governments around the world look to rebuild their economies in the wake of the downturn associated with Covid-19. It is reasonable to expect that the sector will return to its long-term trend of growing faster than the wider economy as, for example, advertising is likely to recover strongly with the wider economy and other sources of income have been more resilient.

The fundamental driver of creative economy growth remains that when consumers have more to spend, and have increasingly sated their demand for other goods and services, they are more likely to spend that additional income on outputs of the creative economy. Extrapolating from earlier trends suggests that the creative economy could grow 40% by 2030, adding more than 8 million additional jobs, in the 9 economies studied.

The importance of the creative economy for overall economic performance is therefore likely to grow. This means its importance for policymaking is also likely to continue to grow, with countries more or less well-positioned to take advantage of that underlying growth in global demand. While this study focuses on developed economies, middle-income countries are likely to show even stronger growth to the extent their overall national income grows faster.

How are the linkages within the creative economy contributing to growth?

The nature of the creative economy will continue to change, and new sectors could emerge entirely (as radio, television, video games and podcasts have in the 20th and 21st centuries so far). Symbiotic relationships between segments are likely to mean advances in one part will stimulate growth in other parts of the creative economy, an ecosystem which – in many ways – thrives (or not) in a virtuous circle together. These relationships include:

  • Creative supply chains - Strength in software, music or craft (making sets, costumes, etc.) sectors can make a country or region more attractive as a destination for, say, investment in new film and TV, and investment in new films and TV series can provide demand that increases growth in the supplying sectors (including those like music that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Shared IP - Where different parts of the creative economy exploit common designs, stories, characters and worlds. This effect can be seen in popular franchises from Pokémon to Harry Potter with major revenues across multiple creative industries. It can also be seen in less well-known books, songs and other creative works used as IP in movies, television shows, video games and other settings which introduce that content to new audiences.
  • Creative technology - There is increasing overlap between the digital and creative industries and this is only likely to increase with the growing role of AI, new approaches to VFX (including the use of gaming platforms in making new film and TV) and collaboration tools in production.

    All of this will have implications for public policy as the creative economy recovers from Covid-19, in areas including:
  • Regional development - With creative industry clusters likely to play a more important role in a greater range of regions over time.
  • Skills policy - With cultivating creativity an increasingly important priority for the education system and the wide range of technical skills needed to support the creative economy in increasing demand.
  • Global competitiveness - With growth in the size of the global creative economy increasing the rewards for those countries and regions that are competitive in the production of creative goods and services.

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