Wait, NZ Arts & Culture Sector GDP Grew At Nearly Twice The Rate Of The Whole Economy?

A couple weeks ago, New Zealand’s Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) proudly announced that the GDP growth for the Arts and Creativity Sector was nearly double that of the economy as a whole for a 12 month period ending March 2022.  “The GDP of $14.9b is a 12-month increase of 10% – compared to total economy GDP growth of 5.3%.”

Some of the highlights from the report:

  • There are more than 115,000 people whose primary employment is in the arts and creativity – that’s a 3.8% increase from March 2021 to March 2022.
  • There are almost 36,000 businesses in the sector
  • Over 10,000 Māori hold primary employment in the Arts and Creative Sector
  • The Māori arts and creative sector contributed more than $1.3 billion to GDP in Aotearoa

As I wrote back in 2017, Maori intellectual property rights has been a point of tension, because as has been the case with many indigenous cultures, there have been differences of understanding both in the wording of treaties and with the concepts of property ownerships.

I am not sure how the ministry categorizes what falls under art and what falls under creativity, but the arts alone account for a much smaller slice of that GDP number (.8%) according to the article summarizing the report. However, that part of the sector is still seeing pretty good growth with employment at 2.8% compared with the 3% for the country as a whole. While arts workers are far more likely to be self-employed than people in other parts of the economy, it is apparently a growth area.

I was pleased to read that most New Zealanders working in the arts sector were considered to be performing highly skilled work, especially in comparison with the rest of the occupations in the country.

In news that will come as no surprise to many, the Arts Sector has 11,641 self-employed workers – accounting for 42% of the sector’s workforce and more than double the total NZ self-employment rate (16.2%).

Interestingly, that rate has increased by 8.1% over the past 15 years compared to the overall self-employment rate in New Zealand which has decreased by 0.9%.

80.7% of the Arts sector workforce are employed in what is described as highly-skilled occupations. This is higher than for all occupations in New Zealand (38.4%).

That number doesn’t look set to drop – Infometrics estimates that between 2023-2028, there will be 10,091 total job openings in the Arts sector (30.3% expected to be new job growth) with three-quarters of those positions likely to be highly-skilled jobs.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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