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Building Australia's future with a 'creative' economy

27 February, 2013

Growth in the creative economy is one way Australia can offset the impact of a slowdown in mineral and commodity exports, according to Stuart Cunningham, an eminent researcher and author of the new book "Hidden Innovation: Policy, Industry and the Creative Sector".

"Minerals and commodities have provided an excellent buffer to the economy during the global financial downturn — but relying on them alone is inherently unsustainable," he said.

Professor Cunningham, who is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology, explains the aim of his new book is to bring to light the largely "hidden" innovation going on within the economy — led by the creative sector.

This timely book is an important addition to The University of Queensland Press' internationally-acclaimed Creative Economy + Innovation Culture series.

In Hidden Innovation Cunningham shows how creative workers contribute fresh ideas across the economy, help communities and businesses adapt to change in both work and leisure, and generate fresh growth, exports and jobs.

He also explores how policies internationally are rapidly catching up with changing social and economic realities as the world's most progressive economies develop the new opportunities offered by design and digital content.

"The last decade or so has seen a proliferation of policies to support the creative economy — in the US, UK, Europe, Asia and the global south," he said.

The creative sector encompasses advertising and marketing, architecture, design and visual arts, film, TV newspapers and radio, music and performing arts, publishing, software and digital content.

Salaries and wages paid to those working in creative employment rose from $26 billion a year in 2006-7 to over $36 billion a year in 2011.

"Creative professionals now outnumber mining sector employees three-to-one, and those of agriculture fishing and forestry two-to-one," Prof Cunningham said.

"This gives some feel for how this sector is emerging relative to two traditional 'backbone' industries."

"For years we have effectively funded science and engineering R&D, as a key ingredient in economic growth. Hidden Innovation argues that the creative industries can be key contributors to the innovation economies of developed countries.

"They contribute ideas, processes, products and, not least, talent, which can be repurposed within and outside the creative industries in ways that grow economies and drive productivity.

"Government innovation policies should recognise this and be constructed in ways that include the creative industries."



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King Phillipe | Thursday, February 28, 2013, 4:21 PM
Without putting a damper, since its clearly an important sector, the creative sectors have been entirely dependent on science and engineering - for example, where do they think the internet comes from? The cultural change arising from the internet is in fact a big diver for ideas, processes, skills, talents and products, all of which are aided by understanding science and technology.
tom m | Monday, March 4, 2013, 9:55 AM
I and my small company is creative and exported to 30+ countries. Maybe fire the management of austrade so we can people who understand we are 4% of the 12% of world population that is the southern hemisphere and that we need to be ahead of other trade orgaisations. The usual mediocre australian way wont cut the mustard. Have plans and assistance thats easy to access and in the form business needes, get the public servanst out of the offices and visiting the real world. As I sit here in a hotel in China ( yse I export a bit to china), it could be alot more if I could gte assistanc eon the gorund with ways to employ and technician to work just for me and make sure we have them locked down for securoty both ways , so we gte what we want and thye get their returns as well But we will get 10+ layers of plaltitudes and garbage inbetween. I could have been a much company if i went to europe or the usa 15 years ago. Australia is a crappy country to export from in a nutshe11 We need a " business in box approach" from austrade so we cna have our own mini multi nationals and people working for us doing what we need in those locations.