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The Creative Economy: Key Concepts and Literature Review Highlights

February 22, 201722 February 2017

Creative economy / Cultural industries

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This report provides a brief overview of key concepts regarding the term “the creative economy” as well as an extensive bibliography of reports related to the creative economy (as of 2013).

The report notes that the term “creative economy” first appeared “in John Howkins’ 2001 book, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas, where he defined the creative economy as ‘the transactions of creative products that have an economic good or service that results from creativity and has economic value’”.

As of 2013, the most common definition of the creative economy was supplied by the United Kingdom’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which defined the creative economy 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”.

The report notes that there are “a multitude of international definitions” of the creative economy, which is “an emerging construct for which the component content has yet to be stabilized… The classification systems of the so-called creative activities and industries are derived from different conceptual models, developed and promoted by numerous national, supranational, regional and interregional organizations and authorities.”

The report indicates that “each model can be utilized for various purposes…. It is important that each region or jurisdiction seeking to foster the creative economy become clear on the model that best suits its context.”

Over time, the report argues that successive concepts of the creative economy have grown larger and the place of the “traditional” cultural sector within the creative economy has decreased (in terms of economic output).

The report provides an overview of important concepts within the creative economy, including:

  • Relationships between the arts and commercial culture.
  • Creativity and the “creative class”.
  • Creative cities and urban renewal.
  • Rural creative economies.
  • Creative clusters.
  • Social, cultural, and environmental benefits of the creative economy.


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