The creative country: policy, practice and place in New Zealand's creative economy 1999-2008

Smith, Jason McLaren
Shirley, Ian
Waring, Marilyn
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The ‘creative industries’ have emerged as one of the dominant elements of the ‘knowledge economy’ in the 21st century. As promoted by academic researchers such as Richard Florida, the ‘creative class’ has been associated with high profile industries such as film and fashion – information technology and design – the arts and a wide range of cultural activities and amenities. In Florida’s research, scientists, architects, engineers and artists are credited with “transforming city life” thereby associating the creative industries with urban regeneration and with city and regional economic development. This study critically examines these assumptions by conducting research on New Zealand’s creative economy from 1999 to 2008 during which time Rt. Hon Helen Clark was Prime Minister and also Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, a period in which the creative industries dominated public policy as well as the rhetoric of economic and cultural development. The public policy analysis here charts the development - some may call it the rise and fall - of New Zealand's creative economy through nine years of an arts-friendly government. The public policy focus revealed two distinctive and contradictory approaches to economic development – the first centred on local and regional policies building on New Zealand’s pastoral economy and the innovative products that it has produced – a form of ‘development from below’ - and the second, incorporating concepts from abroad, such as those advanced by Florida, which led to a creative industries agenda, embedded in the Growth and Innovation Framework and representing a form of ‘development from above’. These contradictory strands of policy were then subjected to review through a series of interviews conducted with some of New Zealand’s leading creative entrepreneurs. Drawn from different industry sectors, these leading creative entrepreneurs provided first hand information on the effectiveness of the different policy initiatives drawing links between location and a sense of place, thereby providing a dynamic interpretation of the context that facilitates creativity.

Note: A CD-ROM containing all policy documents relating to New Zealand's creative economy 1999-2008 (92MB) is held with the hard-copy of this thesis at AUT Library, Auckland, New Zealand.

Cultural policy , Economic development policy , Creativity , Creative industries , Creative economy
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