creative activity

Creative industries

There are many different definitions aimed at describing one of the newest media terms, creative industries, sometimes referred to as creative economy. Hartley defines the term as describing ‘The conceptual and practical convergence of the creative arts (individual talent) with the cultural industries (mass scale), in the context of new media technologies (information and communication technologies) within a new knowledge economy, for the use of newly interactive citizen-consumers’ [Hartley 2005: 5]. In his writtings, The Creative Economy: How People make Money from Ideas (2001), John Howkins defines creative industries in quite a broad, but not far off definition, as follows; ‘The sum total of four sectors : The copyright, the patent, trademark, and design industries – together constitute the creative industries and the creative economy’ [Howkins 2001 : xiii ] The term, creative industries appears to be undeniably linked to new media, globalisation and the knowledgeable economy, which leads to varied conflict as to what constitues creative industries, and what does not. It is however widley accepted that the creative industries sector includes the following; Advertising, Architecture, Arts and Antique markets, Crafts, design, Designer Fashion, Film, Interactive Software (particularly gaming software), Music, Television and Radio, Performing Arts, Publishing and Software. This virtually covers commercial business and all digital new economy sectors.

Alternative definitions

A wide variety of definitions of the creative industries have been adopted as a growing number of national and international agencies have become aware of their economic significance. Towse stated, “The term creative industries are new, though the industries it covers are not”. On the other hand, creative industries are currently elevating industries to become a source of producing new policies. Creativity, innovation and general risk are necessities for both economic and cultural enterprise. Where knowledge and ideas drive both wealth creation and social modernization, and where globalization and new media technologies are the stuff of everyday life and experience. The Creative Industries variously defined are already significant components of advanced economies.

‘Creativity… now the decisive source of competitive advantage.’ [Florida]

Creative Industries seeks to describe the conceptual and practical convergence of the creative arts (individual talent) with Cultural Industries (mass scale), in the context of new media technologies (ITC’s) within a new knowledge economy for the use of newly interactive citizen-consumers. {Hartley 2005]

The formal origins of the concept of the Creative Industries can be found in the Blair Labour Government’s establishment of a Creative Industries Task Force after its election in Britain in 1997, where the newly-created Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) set about mapping current activity in the creative industries, and identify policy measures that could promote their further development. The Creative Industries Mapping Document, prepared by the UK DCMS in 1998, defined creative industries as ‘those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have the potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’.

One attempt to define the creative industries more analytically has been undertaken by economist Richard Caves, who has defined creative industries in these terms: “Creative” industries supply goods and services that we broadly associate with cultural, artistic, or simply entertainment value. They include book and magazine publishing, the visual arts (painting and sculpture), the performing arts (theatre, opera, concerts, dance), sound recordings, cinema and TV films, even fashion and toys and games (Caves, 2000: 1).

Demarcation of the sector

The UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has produced a widely-quoted definition of the creative industries as:
“those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” - (for a definition see also Cultural Institutions Studies).

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) formed in the UK was the forerunner of theories, terms and definitions of Creative Industries. DCMS helped the creative industries thrive by raising their profile and supporting their development. It was their vision that the UK becomes the world’s creative hub.

The current DCMS definition recognises eleven creative sectors

The DCMS list has been influential, and many other nations have formally adopted it. It has also been criticised. It has been argued that the division into sectors obscures a divide between lifestyle business, non-profits, and larger businesses, and between those who receive state subsidies (e.g., film) and those who do not (e.g., computer games). The inclusion of the antiques trade is often questioned, since it does not generally involve production except of reproductions and fakes. The inclusion of all computer services has also been questioned.

Others have suggested a distinction between those industries that are open to mass production and distribution (film and video; videogames; broadcasting; publishing), and those that are primarily craft-based and are meant to be consumed in a particular place and moment (visual arts; performing arts; cultural heritage).

Evolution of the DCMS framework

An earlier DCMS definition provides for:

The 2001 definition recognised fourteen creative sectors

More recent publications, for example the DCMS Creative Industries Statistical Estimates Statistical Bulletin reduced this to eleven sectors:

  • 'Film and Video' became 'Film, Video and Photography
  • 'Music' and 'Performing Arts' were combined to form 'Music and the Visual and Performing Arts'
  • 'Interactive Leisure Software' was combined with 'Computer Services' to form 'Software, Computer Games and Electronic Publishing'

Predecessors and comparators of the DCMS method

The DCMS approach has antecedents in earlier, international, attempts to measure creative activity, notably

  • the Leading European Group (LEG).
  • The Canadian statistical office (needs expansion)
  • UNESCO (needs expansion)

UNESCO = By encouraging diversity and contemporary creation, UNESCO endeavours to ensure that all cultures – with due respect for their equal dignity benefit from the development opportunities opened up by creative industries through strengthening local markets and providing better access to international markets, particularly by means of North-South and South-South cooperation.

How creative workers are counted

The DCMS classifies enterprises and occupations as creative according to what the enterprise primarily produces, and what the worker primarily does. Thus, a company which produces records would be classified as belonging to the music industrial sector, and a worker who plays piano would be classified as a musician.

The primary purpose of this is to quantify - for example it can be used to count the number of firms, and the number of workers, creatively employed in any given location, and hence to identify places with particularly high concentrations of creative activities.

It leads to some complications which are not immediately obvious. For example, a security guard working for a music company would be classified as a creative employee, although not as creatively occupied.

The total number of creative employees is then calculated as the sum of:

  • all workers employed in creative industries, whether or not creatively occupied (eg all musicians, security guards, cleaners, accountants, managers, etc working for a record company)
  • all workers that are creatively occupied, and are not employed in creative industries (for example, a piano teacher in a school). This includes people whose second job is creative, for example somebody who does weekend gigs, writes books, or produces artwork in her spare time

Properties or characteristics of creative industries

According to Caves (2000), creative industries are characterized by seven economic properties:

  1. Nobody knows principle: Demand uncertainty exists because consumer reactions to a product are neither known beforehand, nor easily understood afterwards.
  2. Art for art’s sake: Workers care about originality, technical professional skill, harmony, etc. of creative goods and are willing to settle for lower wages than offered by 'humdrum' jobs.
  3. Motley crew principle: For relative complex creative products (e.g., films), the production requires diversely skilled inputs. Each skilled input must be present and perform at some minimum level to produce a valuable outcome.
  4. Infinite variety: Products are differentiated by quality and by uniqueness: each product is a distinct combination of inputs leading to infinite variety options (e.g., works of creative writing, whether poetry, novel, screenplays or otherwise).
  5. A list/B list: Skills are vertically differentiated. Artists are ranked on their skills, originality, and proficiency in creative processes and/or products. Small differences in skills and talent may yield huge differences in (financial) success.
  6. Time flies: When coordinating complex projects with diversely skilled inputs, time is of the essence.
  7. Ars longa: Some creative products have durability aspects that invoke copyright protection, allowing a creator or performer to collect rents.

ARS LONGA;is a Latin phrase, part of an aphorism originally by the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, and is one of the sources of the popular English aphorism "Life is short."

The properties of Caves have been criticized for being too rigid (Towse, 2000). Not all creative workers are purely driven by 'art for art's sake'. The 'ars longa' property also holds for certain noncreative products (i.e., licensed products). The 'time flies' property also holds for large construction projects. Creative industries are therefore not unique, but they score generally higher on these properties relative to non-creative industries.

Effects on emphasizing 'creative industries'

The different aspects of creative industries have been thoroughly discussed and it shows how much we rely on technology in this age of information. It will definitely be seen with both positive and negative consequences. Emphasizing creative industries will mean the increasing of flexibility in manufacturing, and it could help a nation to become a stronger competitor. This is further supported by Justin’s claims that there are two results from emphasizing quality of creativity:

  • With intellect and desire among nation, any area including the country side could expand creative industries as their basis of revival economy since all the statistics state that it is what most of the nations concentrate on.
  • The phrase ‘creative’ has led cultural industries towards greater improvement and increase their ability to compete. It has also brought an overt accuse of artistic ‘discriminability’ strongly connected to popular culture.

Copyright of Creative Industries

“Howkins (2001) has observed that in 1997, copyright became the U.S. economy’s leading export, and the U.S. produced over $414 billion worth of books, films, music, TV programmes and other copyright products in that year”. The statistic above has shown how copyright has gained significant influence in creative industries from an economic aspect. The importance of creative industries in economy has been proven by statistics shown in most of the nations. Nevertheless, creative industries have not been classified in the National Income statistics. Most of the manufacturers rely on the copyright law to build ownership and gain profits from it. Thus, it will become a unifying attribute of creative industries. Issues that have been voiced out by the members of creative industries are the copyright of their creativity .

Some nations, such as Hong Kong, have preferred to shape their policy around a tighter focus on copyright ownership in the value chain. They adopt the WIPO's classifications, which divide the Creative Industries up according to who owns the copyrights at various stages during the production & distribution of creative content.

Copyright is becoming an increasingly important issue for anyone working in the Creative Industries. So many of the writers, performers and composers, don’t have even the most rudimentary understanding of how intellectual property works, and how it is crucial to their professional lives. Not brushing up even a little leaves you at risk like a shopkeeper who doesn’t know how to add up till receipts. For professional journalists not to know even the most fundamental difference between a copyright and a registered trademark is particularly embarrassing

Different from the 'cultural industries'

There is often a question mark over the boundaries between creative industries and the similar term of cultural industries. Cultural industries are best described as an adjunct-sector of the creative industries, including activities such as: cultural tourism and heritage; museums and libraries; sports and outdoor activities; through a variety of 'way of life' activities that arguably range from local pet shows to a host of hobbyist concerns. The possible difference would thus be that the cultural Industries are more concerned about delivering other kinds of value to society than simply monetary value, such as cultural wealth or social wealth - see also cultural institutions studies.

‘Creative industries’ and ‘cultural industries’ are terms that tend to be used interchangeably. However their meanings and uses are in fact very different. Creativity and Culture are two quite different concepts. Adorno and Horkheimer originally coined the term cultural industry to make the distinction between the traditional artisan-based creative arts and industrially produced cultural forms. The arts were specifically not part of the cultural industries. The term ‘cultural industries’ referring to the ‘classic’ cultural industries of film, recorded music, broadcasting and publishing – was deployed to incorporate these forms of commercial entertainment, mass-produced by industrial methods, as an object of government cultural policy. By adopting the phrase ‘creative industries,’ to replace ‘cultural industries,’ the British were bringing the creative arts into an economic policy agenda.

The creative class

Some authors, such as the American economist Richard Florida, argue for a wider focus on the products of knowledge workers and judge the 'creative class' (his own term) to include nearly all those offering professional knowledge-based services. A critique of Richard Florida's research and theoretical framework has been developed by Matteo Pasquinelli (2006) in the context of Italian Operaismo.

Difference from the 'knowledge industries'

At that point, the term begins to elide with knowledge economy and questions of intellectual property ownership in general.

Knowledge Economy: The essential difference is that in a knowledge economy, knowledge is a product, in knowledge-based economy, knowledge is a tool. This difference is not yet well distinguished in the subject matter literature. They both are strongly interdisciplinary, involving economists, computer scientists, software engineers, mathematicians, chemists, physicists, as well as psychologists and sociologists.

Various observers describe today's global economy as one in transition to a "knowledge economy", as an extension of an "information society". The transition requires that the rules and practices that determined success in the industrial economy need rewriting in an interconnected, globalized economy where knowledge resources such as know-how and expertise are as critical as other economic resources.

The creative class and diversity

Florida's focus leads him to pay particular attention to the nature of the creative workforce. In a study of why particular US cities such as San Francisco seem to attract creative producers, Florida argues that high proportion of workers from the 'creative class' provide a key input to creative production, which enterprises seek out. He seeks to establish, quantitatively, the importance of diversity and multiculturalism in the cities concerned, for example the existence of a significant public gay community, ethnic and religious variety, and tolerance.

Creative Class: The creative class is a class of workers whose job is to create meaningful new forms. The creative class is composed of scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and architects, to name a few. Their designs are widely transferable and useful on a broad scale, as with products that are sold and used on a wide scale. Another sector of the creative class includes those positions which are knowledge intensive. These careers usually require a high degree of formal education.

Economic contribution

Globally, Creative Industries excluding software and general scientific research and development are said to have accounted for around 4% of the world's economic output in 1999, which is the last year for which comprehensive figures are currently available. Estimates of the output corresponding to scientific Research and Development suggest that an additional 4-9% might be attributable to the sector if its definition is extended to include such activities, though the figures vary significantly between different countries.

Taking the UK as an example, in the context of other sectors, the creative industries make a far more significant contribution to output than hospitality or utilities and deliver four times the output due to agriculture, fisheries and forestry. In terms of employment and depending on the definition of activities included, the sector is a major employer of between 4-6% of the UK's working population, though this is still significantly less than employment due to traditional areas of work such as retail and manufacturing.

Within the creative industries sector and again taking the UK as an example, the three largest sub-sectors are design, publishing, and television and radio. Together these account for around 75% of revenues and 50% of employment.

The complex supply chains in the creative industries sometimes make it challenging to calculate accurate figures for the gross value added by each sub-sector. This is particularly the case for the service-focused sub-sectors such as advertising, whereas it is more straightforward in product-focused sub-sectors such as crafts. Not surprisingly, perhaps, competition in product-focused areas tends to be more intense with a tendency to drive the production end of the supply chain to become a commodity business.

There may be a tendency for publicly-funded creative industries development services to inaccurately estimate the number of creative businesses during the mapping process. There is also imprecision in nearly all tax code systems that determine a person's profession, since many creative people operate simultaneously in multiple roles and jobs. Both these factors mean that official statistics relating to the Creative Industries should be treated with caution.

Wider role

As some first world countries struggle to compete in traditional markets such as manufacturing, many now see the creative industries as a key component in a new knowledge economy, capable perhaps of delivering urban regeneration, often through initiatives linked to exploitation of cultural heritage that leads to increased tourism. It is often argued that, in future, the ideas and imagination of countries like the United Kingdom will be their greatest asset. Indeed, UK government figures reveal that the UK's creative industries account for over a million jobs and brought in £112.5 billion to the UK economy (DCMS Creative Industries Mapping Document 2001), although the data sets underlying these figures are open to question.

Creative Industries’ indications

Apparently, the rapid growth of creative industries raised some concerns, such as, are the creative industries changing for the better? Are all the changes we experienced a positive improvement for society or is it actually the conspiracy of particular group? From Justin’s report, he stated that the transformation of terminology was not non-aligned as what we see. In actual, the emergence of creative industries has led to a clear distinction between ‘arts’ and ‘cultural’ policy. Simultaneously, it can also act as a compensation for those pure arts and cultural agencies. Digital technologies determined that the identification of the creative industries was the fundamental key that drives the governmental deceit in this contemporary economy. Furthermore, the current trends are leaning towards an information and knowledge-based society.

Three Trends of Development in Creative Industries

Parallel to the growth of the creative industries is the growth of current economies. It can be concluded that creative industries have become the nuclear constituent of these economies. The expansion of creative industries is related to three trends .

  • i. First, it is related to the progress of cultural industries to become a target of common guidelines. In addition, the development of cultural assistance with cultural guidelines can also be defined as the best way of decisive rethinking.
  • ii. Second, to stimulate the development of creative industries, disputations about knowledge, creativity and information relationships as well as the economy base in knowledge are raised.
  • iii. Third, the significant issues about the characteristics of employment in the services segment and its manufacturing models have come into notice due to the changing of the employment segment from industrialization to services.


  • The Creative Economy (BusinessWeek magazine). Retrieved on 2006-08-18..
  • Caves, Richard E. (2000). Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
  • Pasquinelli, Matteo (2006). " Immaterial Civil War: Prototypes of Conflict within Cognitive Capitalism. .". In: Lovink, Geert and Rossiter, Ned (eds). MyCreativity Reader: A Critique of Creative Industries, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2007.
  • Towse, Ruth (2002). Book Review of Creative Industries. Journal of Political Economy, 110: 234-237.
  • Parrish, David (2005). "T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity." url= Merseyside ACME.
  • Allen J Scott 2005, ON HOLLYWOOD: THE PLACE THE INDUSTRY Princeton University Press
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  • Flew, T. (2002). Paper presented to Cultural Sites, Cultural Theory, Cultural Policy, Beyond ad hocery: Defining Creative Industries, The Second International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, Te Papa, Queensland University of Technology, Wellington, New Zealand. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from
  • O’Connor, J. (2007). The cultural and creative industries: a review of the literature. London: Creative Partnerships Arts Council England. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from kulturekonomi:
  • Potts, J., & Cunningham, S. (2008). Four Models of the Creative Industries. Journal of Cultural- Science, 1, 23. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from cultural- science:
  • Towse, R. (2002). Copyright and Cultural Policy for the Creative Industries. Rotterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from serci:

External links

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia:
National Institute for Excellence in the Creative Industries (NIECI), UK:


Department of Culture, Media and Sport, UK:

British Council, UK. Information about its creative economy programme, currently operating in over 40 emerging economies and including its highly regarded Young Creative Entrepreneur award programme and Nurturing the creative economy seminars. Website described as "interaction, experience and networks for the global creative economy":

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