Defining the Creative Economy

The definition of the creative economy used in this project includes industries and occupations that have potential for wealth and job creation through the exploitation of intellectual property. Based on the UK DCMS definition of the creative industries and the Nesta/CCi dynamic mapping method (Bakhshi, Freeman, & Higgs, 2013; DCMS, 1998), this approach groups industries and occupations into seven sectors: the mostly business-to-business creative services sectors (1) advertising and marketing, (2) architecture and design, (3) software and digital content sectors; and the mostly business-to-consumer cultural production sectors (4) film, TV and radio, (5) music and performing arts, (6) publishing and (7) visual arts.

The creative economy. There is a difference between the creative economy and creative industries—the concept of the creative economy captures not only the footprint of the creative industrial sector, but also encompasses spillover effects and creative contributions to other parts of an economic ecosystem (Hartley et al., 2012, p. 56). The creative economy can be observed through the creative workforce, which allows differentiation between the specialist creative and support workers employed in creative industries, and creative workers embedded in other industries, presented here in creative trident tables.

Employment classification systems. The creative economy is defined here in terms of industries and occupations: groups of businesses and jobs that do the same thing. In Australia, industries are categorised under the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Industry Classification 2006 (ANZSIC) and occupations under the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Classification of Occupations 2013 (ANZSCO), both of which are administered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Identifying an industry or occupation as creative. This project uses the Nesta/CCi dynamic mapping method to identify creative industries and creative industries (Bakhshi et al., 2013). This method categorises occupations as creative by assessing them under a set of characteristics that are predictive of creative roles, and industries in terms of their “creative intensity”, that is people in creative occupations as a proportion of all people employed in each industry. Here we follow the approach taken by Higgs and Lennon (2014) in applying the dynamic mapping method to 2011 census data, updated for the 2016 census (Table 2 and Table 3).

Note that Higgs and Lennon used the most detailed four-digit ANZSIC and six-digit ANZSCO categories to identify creative industries and occupations. In its online release of census data, however, the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides employment breakdowns by four-digit ANZSIC and four-digit ANZSCO categories. This means that, unless otherwise indicated, employment for creative occupation is estimated for this project using the corresponding four-digit ANZSCO categories listed in table 3.

Note also that the ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification systems do not always fit comfortably within these sector classifications. Visual artists and professional crafts people, for example, are included in visual arts occupations, while industries that include creative and performing arts activities are grouped together in one four-digit ANZSIC category and are included in the music and performing arts sector.

Presenting creative economy data – the trident table. The trident table is a useful way of presenting creative industry and creative occupation data that highlights different categories of creative workers (Table 1):

  • Specialists – people employed in creative occupations in creative industries (shaded yellow)
  • Embedded creatives – people employed in creative occupations in other industries (blue)
  • Support workers – people employed in other occupations in creative industries (green)
  • All people employed in creative roles – the sum of specialists, embedded creatives and support workers (orange)

Table 1 Creative employment trident

Table 2 Creative industries categories and inclusions

Table 3 Creative occupations categories and inclusions


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Census of Population and Housing.

Bakhshi, H., Freeman, A., & Higgs, P. (2013). A Dynamic Mapping of the UK’s Creative Industries. Retrieved from

DCMS. (1998). Creative Industries Mapping Document 1998. Retrieved from

Hartley, J., Potts, J., Cunningham, S., Flew, T., Keane, M., & Banks, J. (2012). Key Concepts in Creative Industries. In SAGE Key Concepts series.

Higgs, P. L., & Lennon, S. (2014). Australian Creative Employment in 2011 – applying the NESTA Dynamic Mapping definition methodology to Australian Classifications. Retrieved from