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The Creative Economy – What’s it Really Worth?

We hear a lot about the creative economy and its importance, but how much does the creative sector really contribute to the overall economic outlook?

In the past, it’s been more a matter of guesswork rather than relying on evidence, but a new report from Christchurch NZ has delivered some facts around the creative sector and what it means for the local economy here in Ōtautahi.

The creative arts sector employed over 5 and half thousand people in 2022 and contributed approximately $718 million dollars over that same year.  Perhaps more interestingly, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the local arts sector has grown at almost double the rate of Christchurch’s overall GDP since 2017.

Nationally, the arts sector contributes nearly $10 billion dollars annually, and Christchurch makes up 7.3% of that annual economic output.

The Creative Arts Workforce

So, just who makes up the creative workforce here in Christchurch?

Of the 5,690 creative workers – the majority are working in the design field (52%). This includes fields such as architecture and graphic design.  The screen industry, digital media industry and literature and print publishing industry all sit at around 9% of the workforce. Craftspeople make up around 8% of the workforce and performing arts is sitting around 4.2%.

Of particular note is the fact that during the past ten years, the creative arts workforce in Christchurch has outpaced the Christchurch workforce as a whole. Christchurch’s creative arts workforce has increased by 33% since 2012, and it has grown at a more rapid rate than the rest of New Zealand which has a 19% growth rate.

GDP Output of the Creative Arts Sector

The research shows that in 2022, the creative arts sector contributed at least $718 million in economic output.

Compared to the composition of GDP generated by the arts sector across New Zealand as a whole, Christchurch has a disproportionately high share of GDP generated by the design sub sector (54% vs 37%). Christchurch also has a higher share of creative arts GDP which is generated by digital media and a slightly higher share of GDP generated by performing arts (3.1% vs 2.9%).

As with employment numbers, the GDP of the creative sector has grown at almost double the rate of Christchurch’s overall GDP since 2017 (28% GDP in creative arts vs 15% GDP growth in all other sectors).

The research focused on specific areas such as workforce, and direct economic benefit, and did not look at associated areas such as retail, events or secondary income generated by the arts, such as tourist spend, accommodation or associated spend.

Overall, the statistics reveal a local creative arts sector that not only contributes to the city in employment and economic benefits but contributes to the entire national economy in both employment figures and economic output.

Ōtautahi arts and creative practitioners, you can give yourself a big pat on the back!



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