The term creative industries originates in Australia (DCA 1994), and then its use expanded to the United Kingdom, which needed to find new bases for growth for its post-industrial economy (DCMS 1998; O’Connor 2007). They are also frequently referred to as cultural and creative industries, the creative industry, or the creative sector, even if some authors introduce nuances in the use of one or the other term.
There are many definitions of creative industries. The most usually cited are those by the British Department of Culture Media and Sports (DCMS), the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the European Union authorities (European Commission, European Parliament):
The DCMS (2001: 5) refers to “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”. Creative industries are signs of the natural evolution of the cultural industry that follow the structural changes caused by the affirmation of new technologies and new products in the sphere of the entertainment industry.
UNCTAD (2008: 4) defines creative industries as “cycles of creation, production and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs; constitute a set of knowledge-based activities, focused on but not limited to arts, potentially generating revenues from trade and intellectual property rights; comprise tangible products and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives; are at the cross-road among the artisan, services and industrial sectors; and constitute a new dynamic sector in the world trade”. The term “creative industries” exceeds the limits of the cultural sector to include media and ICTs following the structural changes due to the growth and development of the new technologies.
For the European Parliament (2016: 10) they are defined as “those industries that are based on cultural values, cultural diversity, individual and/or collective creativity, skills and talent with the potential to generate innovation, wealth and jobs through the creation of social and economic value, in particular from intellectual property”.
The concept of creative industries is made operational by drawing up a list of activities in which creativity is particularly important. So far there is no agreement on which of the approaches to reach this list is the most appropriate or what activities should be classified as creative (UNCTAD 2008; Throsby 2008).
UNCTAD (2008, 2010) distinguishes five conceptual models for its definition:
the DCMS model, based on individual creativity and that marks the relevance of technological creative industries in contrast to the traditional cultural industries;
the symbolic texts model differentiates between central, peripheral and border cultural industries, and focuses on the processes through which thought culture and creativity are produced, disseminated and transmitted;
the concentric circle model assumes that the creative capacity and content is different in each industry. Creative ideas originate in a core creative circle formed by the creative arts, which then diffuse outwards through a series of concentric circles in which the amount of creative content decreases successively: other core industries, less central industries, and related industries;
the copyright model of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) distinguishes between industries that produce most of the intellectual property (core copyright industries), those necessary to convey the goods and services to the consumer (interdependent copyright industries), and those in which intellectual property is only a minor part (partial copyright industries);
and the UNCTAD model, which attempts to classify creative industries into domains, groups and subsectors, distinguishing between heritage, arts, media and functional creations. This model differentiates between upstream activities (traditional cultural activities), and downstream activities (much closer to the market).
Other research has proposed to classify an industry as creative based on its share of creative occupations or/and the qualification in terms of educational levels of the employees (Higgs and Cunningham 2008; Nathan et al. 2015 for NESTA (2015)).
The choice of one or the other approach and the delimitation of the following list of sectors to measure the creative industries usually provokes controversy and not only a few arguments. The most comprehensive list seems to be the provided by UNCTAD (2010), including: printing (only for statistical comparisons where data are not enough disaggregated), publishing, advertising and related services, architecture and engineering, specialised trade of art in antique markets, crafts, fashion and high-end industries, specialised design services, film, motion and video, musing and sound recording, performing arts, other visual arts, photography, radio and television broadcasting, software and videogames, heritage and cultural occupations, copyright collecting societies, cultural tourism and creative research and development (R&D).
However, as can be seen in Table 1, other classifications do not consider industries such as printing, creative retail trade, crafts, designer fashion, heritage, interactive media, some visual arts, copyright societies, cultural tourism, recreational services, engineering and R&D services.
Since most of the industries are shared between the most usual classifications (see Throsby 2008), differences resulting from the application of one classification or another can be moderate, and their importance depends on the objective of the research and the places to which they are applied (see Lazzeretti et al. 2018). For example, Boix et al. (2013) and Boix and Soler (2017) argue that manufacturing sectors usually classified as creative are basically engaged in making more than in creating, and their inclusion biases the results of the estimation of the impacts of the creative industries, so that they should be better focused as semi-creative industries (Boix 2012).
Although the use of standard lists is useful in comparisons (in particular between cities, regions and countries), it is still debatable whether the same economic sector can be creative in one place and not in another. In addition, the classifications are updated over time, trying to introduce more objective criteria for the delimitation of sectors, as discussed by Nathan et al. (2015).
2.3 European Statistics for the Creative Sectors
Due to the dual nature of the creative sector, the statistics for its measurement can focus on the purely cultural or purely technological part when a restricted version of creativity is adopted.
Focusing on a more cultural approach, a precursor is the “Framework for Culture Statistics” (FCS), adopted at the Conference of European Statisticians of 1986 (see UNESCO 2009). The guiding principles included in the 2009 FCS are aimed at establishing a conceptual foundation that encompasses all cultural expressions and uses internationally comparable categories for the classification of products, economic activities and occupations, facilitating the identification of variables and the elaboration of cultural indicators to capture the cultural reality in a way that is both descriptive and integrating (Coll et al. 2018). The guidelines were applied to the elaboration of world cultural statistics in UNESCO (2012).
An increase in the level of awareness about the lack of cultural statistics in the European Union (EU) in the context of several international forums led to the establishment of the European Leadership Group on Cultural Statistics (LEG-Cultura) in 1997. The main goal of the LEG was to define the cultural domains, suggest changes to national and international classifications to reflect the distinctive features of the cultural and creative sector, revise and carry out an inventory of all the available data and create a series of indicators that allowed comparison between nations.
In 2009, Eurostat proposed the creation of the European Statistical Network (ESSnet-Culture) to improve the methodology and production of data about cultural sectors, and at the same time facilitate their comparison at the European level. The results were published in the form of a Cultural Statistics pocketbook (2007, 2011 and 2016) as part of the Statistical Books series. This was the first publication by Eurostat related to the field of culture that includes comparable data available in the European Statistical System and other sources of information such as UNESCO or the Eurobarometer. The data included in the Eurostat’s Culture Statistics report and their original sources are: cultural employment (EU Labour Force Survey), cultural enterprises (Business Statistics and Business Demography), international trade in cultural goods (Eurostat), cultural participation (Adult Education Survey by Eurostat), use of ICT for cultural purpose (Community survey on ICT usage in households), and private spending in culture (Household Budget Survey).
At the opposite extreme, we find the reports and statistics elaborated by WIPO (2014) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO 2016), which focus on the intellectual property rights (IPR) part of the creative industries. This includes industries that register trademarks, patents, designs, copyright, geographical indications and plant variety rights, which means that some cultural industries (e.g. those related to heritage) are not considered. Both extremes—culture-based and IPR-based industries—have a part in common, and consider core definitions and enhanced perimeters.
Between these two extremes, other databases containing information on creative industries in the EU have been drawn up, using Eurostat or other public institutions as the original source of data. These include the European Cluster Observatory (ECO) (http://www.clusterobservatory.eu/) and the Toolkit of Creative Med (ToCM) (http://toolkit.creativemed.eu/). The ECO database has information for the period 1991–2011 (the quality and coverage of the information is uneven between years), at different territorial levels (NUTS 0 to NUTS 2), and considers as creative and cultural industries: advertising, artistic and literary creation, preservation of historical sites and buildings, other printing and publishing, radio and television, creative retail and distribution and software.
The ToCM is oriented towards the elaboration of policies based on creativity in the Mediterranean area of the EU, although the database contains information for all of the EU. The database is at NUTS 2 level and mainly refers to the year 2011. Data on workers in cultural and creative industries are taken from the ECO, although ToCM also includes indicators of semi-creative industries, creative class and cultural resources. It is already capable of automatically generating diagnoses and suggesting policies for each region, within the framework of the strategy RIS3.
Despite the effort made in recent times to improve the quantity and quality of creative industries’ statistics, there is no doubt that more sophisticated measurement systems are needed if we are to gauge and analyse all the sophisticated relationships between the creative industries and their economic and social impacts.