In Australia and internationally, there is strong interest in the role of ‘cultural’ and ‘creative’ activity in the economy, such as highlighted recently by Australia’s National Cultural Policy Creative Australia. These terms are often used to describe activities connected with the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion and information technology.
To advance the development of economic measures for these activities, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has conducted a study on the feasibility of producing cultural and creative activity satellite accounts for Australia. The feasibility study concludes it is possible for the ABS to construct Australian cultural and creative activity satellite accounts with a reasonable level of quality using currently available data. The purpose of this discussion paper is to present the findings of the study and invite comment on the proposed approach, data and investment priorities.
The feasibility study was undertaken in consultation with federal and state government organisations comprising the Cultural Ministers’ Statistics Working Group, and with Australian academics. The method used for the feasibility study is depicted in figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Feasibility study method
Stakeholders have identified three major needs from Australian cultural and creative activity satellite accounts: to measure the economic value of this segment of the economy; monitor its economic viability and reliance on volunteers and financial support from Government; and understand its linkages to the rest of the economy. This translates to a need for headline outcome measures for Australia and individual states and territories, for detail on the composition of those headline measures, and for a supply-use table that can be used for supply chain analyses.
Practical definitions of cultural and creative activity have been developed with stakeholders, starting by identifying the core cultural and creative domains (e.g. film, music, design, etc). For each domain, it is proposed that the satellite accounts would capture four components as shown in figure 2.
Figure 2: Proposed boundary for cultural and creative activity satellite accounts
Component 1 has been the focus of similar satellite accounts for other nations including Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom and Spain. Some of these cultural or creative activity satellite accounts have aspired to include components 2 and 3 but were not able to do so because of data or methodological difficulties. Components 3 and 4 are included in a satellite account the ABS has produced for non-profit institutions.
To outline how the four components in figure 2 are proposed to be estimated for Australian satellite accounts:
- Activity in the cultural and creative industry supply chains would be valued by drawing out the contributions of selected industries from ABS input-output tables.
- The activity in other industries performed by workers in cultural and creative occupations would be valued as a share of compensation of employees, which is also in ABS input-output tables. The share would be calculated using detailed employment and wages data from the Census of Population and Housing and ABS surveys.
- Volunteer services to cultural and creative institutions would be valued from the number of hours of volunteer work given to ‘arts/heritage’ organisations. Each hour of work would be valued at an hourly rate commensurate with the cost of replacing volunteer work with paid labour.
- Non-market output of market producers is intended to capture the value of goods and services supplied by non-profit institutions for free, or at prices that are not economically significant, because the production is supported by charitable contributions and other transfers. It would be estimated using Business Activity Statement data from the Australian Taxation Office.
Some stakeholders are primarily interested in ‘cultural’ activity, which is a relatively mature and accepted concept, while other stakeholders focus on the emerging concept of ‘creative’ activity. The feasibility study explored how these different needs might be met and determined it is possible to produce three separate accounts (cultural, creative, combined cultural and creative). In addition, the satellite accounts could give details by domain to the extent possible.
The most recent financial year the satellite accounts could be produced for is currently 2008-09. The ability to produce the satellite accounts in future years depends on the continued availability of various input data.
State and territory splits of Australian estimates could potentially be developed for each of the four components using a breakdown of the source data or other indicators. This would need to be assessed further once Australian accounts are developed.
Some of the details stakeholders are seeking about the composition of headline measures are not currently collected or compiled (e.g. sources of incomes and types of expenses in certain industries, and data on industry assets and liabilities). There are also a number of areas where data should ideally be updated or its quality improved. Most of these can be remedied with funding but in some cases the expense may be prohibitive. The gaps and remedies are covered in section 5.
An objective of the feasibility study is to determine the investment priorities in this area of statistics so stakeholders can share a coherent longer-term investment strategy. The ABS believes the investment priorities are to develop the first satellite accounts and the information technology infrastructure needed to produce the accounts efficiently in the future. After the satellite accounts are ‘up and running’ the priority would be to expand the information included in the accounts (e.g. adding details on types of income and expenses) and to improve or maintain the quality of key data inputs. The investment priorities are covered in section 6.
Feedback or inquiries from stakeholders about this discussion paper are welcome and will be considered for an upcoming ABS information paper on this topic. Feedback or inquiries should be forwarded by 30 August 2013 to:
National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2272
Adelaide SA 5001