Creative industry grows exponentially in revenue and outreach, generates many jobs and values human innovative ability: see how this is part of your daily life

A day in your life without being impacted by creative economy is unlikely. It’s most likely that, on your way to work or school, your mobile is on and you listen to music while driving or playing games on the bus. Moreover, if you plan your weekend with a movie session with popcorn or e-learning to boost your resumé, you find creative economy there.

“The concept involves products and services, and their added value comes out of creativity. In other words, they are products and services that rely on creativity to generate innovation, added value and differentiation,” says Ana Carla Fonseca, coordinator of the Continued Education Program for Creative Economy at Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

“One of the greatest virtues of creative economy is the fact of looking back at the importance of human capital within the economy,” says Ana Carla Fonseca.

Since the first steam machines of the Industrial Revolution, in late 18th century, economic development had been driven by automation and division of labor. Efficient machinery has headed large industries in the last 200 years, as in the case of petrochemical, automobile, building, information technology industries, and others. In general terms, human activity was restricted to two functions: managing and designing productive systems or repeating and reproducing exhaustively mechanized functions.

However, the last two decades promoted two new concurrent revolutions: cultural and digital. In the field of culture, sectors related to science and technology or arts and entertainment generated increasing revenues, received more investments, created more jobs and provided comfort to more people. And the digital industry acts as a bulwark of this phenomenon.

The ascension of culture as a robust industry reflects a transformation in the individual-work relationship: creativity, and not merely reproduction ability, is the worker’s major asset. “One of the greatest virtues of creative economy is the fact of looking back at the importance of human capital within the economy,” says Ana Carla Fonseca.

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Which sectors comprise creative economy?

The document that serves as ground for the first creative economy definitions dates back to 1998 – and even today these are discussed between market experts and scholars, and are constantly changing. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), for example, states 11 sectors. However, the publication Creative Industries – Mapping Document, prepared by the British government, was the first to outline the sectors: it established 13 creative segments that may be divided in four big clusters. Get to know them below.


– Editorial (books, magazines and digital content)

– Audiovisual (video content, television schedule and broadcast in general)

Exibição de livros. Crédito: Freddie Marriage/Unsplash


– Architecture (building, landscape and environmental design, space planning)

– Design (products and visual and multimedia content)

– Fashion (clothing design)

– Advertising (creation of publicity pieces, marketing, market research and event organization)


– Arts and Cultural Heritage (museology, cultural production and heritage sites)

– Music (recording, edition, creation and music interpretation)

– Performing arts (acting, production and direction of shows)

– Cultural expressions (handcraft, folklore, cuisine and festivals)

Festival de música. Crédito: Tajmia Loiacono/Unsplash


– Research and Development (academic research)

– Biotechnology (bioengineering and lab research)

– Information technology (software, systems development and robotics)

However, being associated with such sectors does not necessarily mean being a part of the creative economy. Although there’s no formal definition for the relationship between creative-dedicated functions versus mechanical or bureaucratic ones, an activity is deemed to be part of such industry when innovation, pioneering and value generation to a product or a service come into play.

See below five ways in which creative economy is already part of your life:

Culture Development

The Independent Review of the Creative Industries report, prepared by the United Nations (UN), describes creative economy as a sector of intense economic growth, generator of revenue and jobs, and also highlights its hybrid culture between economic and cultural exchanges. To the United Nations, it’s a human development driver that may generate wellbeing, self-esteem, dialogue between the different and better quality of life.

Economic gains guide companies, but, jointly, creative industries are able to generate, reinforce or transform cultural symbols of a society. Around the world, samba, bossa nova and telenovelas made in Brazil are recognized as an inherent part of Brazilian society. For the most part of the world, such elements forge a country’s national identity, whether domestically (how the idea of nation is formed), or abroad (creating a “brand,” which may or may not be desirable by consumers, therefore, boosting the economy with tourism or sale of cultural products).

A contemporary example is K-pop, a global phenomenon that injected US$ 18 billion in South Korea’s economy in 2017. From the hit Gangnam Style, by South Korean singer PSY, whose video had been the most viewed on YouTube for 5 years, to the world tour of young group BTS, the Asian country established an industry of making musicians for export. Investment is high and international: to date, there are 29 Korean cultural centers in 25 countries.

Busan One Asia Festival. Crédito: Busan Metropolitan City/Wikimedia Commons

Job creation

The likelihood that your new job might be found in creative economy is not small. According to a report by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco) and consulting firm EY of 2015, about 3% of the world’s GDP (more than US$ 2.25 trillion in revenue) pertain to creative economy. And, according to a study by consulting firm PwC, its growth is estimated to be beyond the world average: 4.6% by 2021, more than the 4.2% of the average for all economies.

The result of such abundance is the creation of many jobs. To date, there are 30 million people working in creative activities worldwide – plus an estimated 1.2 million in informal work. And Brazil has its shares in this market: according to the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), there are about 850 thousand Brazilians that set the sector in motion, which generates BRL 155 billion in the country. Even during a period of crisis, the curve for generation of jobs in this sector is ascending.

Globally, the TV sector generates revenue and jobs the most, followed by visual arts (such as the film industry). In Brazil, the information technology sector stands out.

The world in the palm of your hands

Is there anything you cannot see on a smartphone? On a screen of a few inches in size you can find friend contacts, GPS maps and applications with varying functions. Development of such software plays an important role in the creative industry.

Smartphone. Crédito: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash

From a digital platform, programmers and developers may create a whole world. Innovative services such as ridesharing or dating sites are the most obvious examples, but innovation, creation and technology relationships may go even further: fintechs (structures similar to those of banks, but entirely digital) are business models that generate increasing financial transactions (more than BRL 450 million in Brazil in 2018) and encourage new types of business relations.

Your gaming – video game industry

The idea that video games are toys for children is outdated. The video game industry has options for every profile: simple games as pastime at a doctor waiting room, such as Candy Crush or Farm Heroes, and also mega productions generating billions.

In 2018, the United Kingdom economy had a boost of US$ 6.5 billion from the video game industry – the games Batman Arkham and Red Dead Redemption 2 were pulled most money. Other developed countries have strongly invested in the production of video games: Canada, South Korea, France, Japan and Sweden offer programs, scholarships, studios, tax incentive laws and private-public partnership projects dedicated to this sector.

Competição de e-Sports (videogame). Créditos: PxHere

Everything you watch, listen and interact

This is the most obvious aspect of creative economy: all that is easily understood as work of human creativity. Telenovelas on TV, films at movie theaters, series on streaming, music on the radio or applications; you will not find any entertainment not forged in this industry.

Globally, the TV sector still has the greatest revenue: in 2015, according to the UN report, US$ 477 billion were generated. When added to the visual arts (mostly formed by cinema) and editorial sectors (newspaper, magazines, sites), the figures reach US$ 1.2 trillion.

In the case of the largest audiovisual streaming company in the world today, Netflix, its user base is approximately 120 million (almost the population of Mexico), but within a decade, research company Citi Research estimates that it will exceed 260 million subscribers (more than the sum of all Latin America countries, excluding Brazil). Even larger in user base, 190 million around the world, Spotify has a portfolio of 87 million subscribers in growth – in 3Q 2018 alone, it went up 5%.

Creative economy can be found anywhere now. Where else is it part of your life?

Content published in May 29, 2019

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