Creativity is key to Australia's economic future thriving

Why creativity is key to economic growth

The old school notion of creativity within an economy used to focus on the role of arts and culture.

Now we're seeing the emergence of a much broader creative industries sector that encompasses digital design and innovation, communications, marketing and media. Creative industries and occupations around the world are expanding faster than other sectors, fuelled by rapid developments in information and communications technologies (ICT) and digital innovation.

Advances in ICT have radically transformed the nature of creative production and consumption, generating new genres such as game development. Industry estimates put annual revenue from the global gaming industry at $135 billion, eclipsing the film and music industries combined.

However, the digital revolution is not the full story. While the boundaries of the sector are hard to define, the evidence points to employment in creative work in Australia growing at almost twice the pace of overall employment.


Jobs in many traditional arts and cultural sectors are also surging, including creative artists, writers and performers. On the other side, jobs in print publishing are being rapidly displaced by digital forms of publishing.

Creative content has become the main currency, and technology is blurring boundaries between consumers and producers as digital platforms allow consumers' input to be repackaged as content.

This thirst for creativity has seen the emergence of clusters or innovation precincts, where businesses and workers develop strategic networks that spur innovation. Performing artists need audiences, but workers in many of the emerging creative industries should be less reliant on co-location.

However, a new report from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre finds creative workers and enterprises are still clustered in and around our large cities.

Australia's creative workforce is heavily concentrated in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Other parts of the country are playing catch up, with a number of state governments investing in new initiatives to diversify and grow their creative industries.

Australia needs to remain competitive in a rapidly changing global environment in which creativity and innovation are becoming increasingly critical in value creation.

The bottom line is successful economies need to be creative, and building - and supporting - a creative workforce is central to our economic future.

  • Professor Michael Dockery is Principal Research Fellow at the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, located at Curtin University.
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