Why the arts are a central force in the economy

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David Throsby

Economists should understand the arts as the very centre of a production system that derives benefit from the things the arts do.

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In recent years there has been a growing policy interest in the economic potential of the arts.   Economic policy in many countries in Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere is paying increasing attention to the idea of the ‘creative economy’, the proposition that there exists in the economy a group of so-called ‘creative industries’  whose contribution to GDP, employment, exports etc. is growing more strongly that in traditional sectors such as manufacturing.  Investment in these industries, so the argument runs, will pay handsome dividends in revitalising sluggish economic performance.  This trend has had direct implications for the arts because the cultural industries, which include the arts, are a significant component of the creative economy.

About the author

Professor David Throsby is Australia’s leading cultural economist. He is Professor of Economics at Macquarie University, has been a consultant to the World Bank, the OECD, FAO and UNESCO, and has chaired three Prime Minister’s Working Groups on sustainable development.