THE Hunter’s creative industries is a “largely unseen player” in the region’s economy, enjoying a growth rate of employment outpacing the general workforce, according to researchers reporting after three years investigating the burgeoning field.
University of Newcastle School of Creative Industries associate professors Phillip McIntyre and Susan Kerrigan along with Conjoint Professor Mark Balnaves, Technica CPT director Evelyn King and former Newcastle Now board member Claire Williams received an Australian Research Council grant to probe what the creative industries were in the Hunter and how they worked.
“The state government established the Creative Industries Taskforce in 2012 and Newcastle was not on the map – yet we knew there was a lot going on,” Associate Professor McIntyre said.
“We wanted to get baseline data so that decision and policy makers could use research that told them exactly what was happening.”
Creative industries is an umbrella term covering the arts, design (comprising architecture, fashion, graphic design and advertising and marketing), media and information technology.
Associate Professor McIntyre said the research showed the region was “batting above the average”.
“There’s enormous potential because we’re living in a digital world and it’s not necessary to be located in Hollywood to make a film,” he said.
“Creative industries is not the only solution, but will be part of the mix to help us get past the mining and manufacturing slump.”
The researchers found 7895 people were working in the creative industries – equivalent to about three per cent of all Hunter residents employed – in 2016.
However, he said, this was likely an under-representation of involvement, considering the Australian Bureau of Statistics measures only a person’s main job and doesn’t account for multiple occupations, plus creatives often ‘gift’ their work and don’t receive an income.
Associate Professor McIntyre said the Hunter’s annual growth rate of employment in creative industries was 4.3 per cent and outpaced the total workforce growth rate of 3.2 per cent from 2011 to 2016.
The creative industries contributed $1.29 billion – or three per cent of gross regional product – to the regional economy in 2016.
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