(c) Samuel Bebbington
The Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the British Council, jointly commissioned a report, a first of its kind exercise, to show the important contribution to growth, jobs, and trade in the Americas generated by creative and cultural activities such as the arts, design, music, and advertising, amongst others.
Some $640 billion was the value of the world’s exports of creative goods and services in 2011, of which $87 billion or 14% originated in the Americas, according to data compiled by Oxford Economics in the study The Economic Impact of the Creative Industries in the Americas, a collation of existing quantitative data on the economic performance of the creative and cultural industries.
The report surveys 44 countries—including 34 countries in the Americas and 10 benchmark countries from other regions around the world. It also recommends ways to improve and standardise national measurement frameworks to better track trends within and across countries and support more evidence-based policymaking.
The contribution by creative industries to GDP varies widely across the region: from just under 2 percent in Chile to more than 10 percent in Brazil and the United States. Growth rates in the sector are consistently higher than the average of the economy.
The creative sector is also an important provider of employment in some countries: between 5 percent to 11 percent of jobs in Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Moreover, the sector has a higher percentage of youth employment than the rest of the economy.
The sector is becoming increasingly international. Creative exports from the countries in the Americas accounted for 2.2 percent of all their exports of goods and services. The leading creative export categories for the Americas include:
- Design goods ($21.7 billion) – comparable to the value of remittances to Mexico
- Personal, cultural and recreational services ($18.2 billion) – comparable to the economy of Honduras
- Architecture and related services ($12.8 billion) – three times the Foreign Direct Investment received by the Caribbean countries combined
- Visual arts goods ($8.2 billion) – comparable in value to Brazilian coffee exports
In presenting the study at the 6th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Santiago, Chile, on January 16, 2014, the OAS, IDB, and British Council expressed their hope that the study would raise awareness of the creative sector's enormous potential for economic development and innovation for the region. They also pointed to the critical need to move forward toward more harmonised and rigorous measurement mechanisms already underway to ensure appropriate policy responses to the sector's needs and opportunities. The three institutions pledged to continue their joint collaboration to promote the creative economy in the hemisphere.
Download the report
The study is composed of a narrative report, that includes summary dashboards for seven countries, which can be downloaded here or from the OAS and IDB's websites.
The report’s complete set of databases can also be downloaded here.
 For purposes of the study, creative and cultural industries were considered as covering: advertising; art crafts; audio-visual / film; cultural heritage; design; entertainment software, including video games; fashion; music; publishing; performing arts; and visual arts.
 Comparisons are in value equivalents for 2011.