Cultural and creative sectors

Cultural and creative sectors (CCS) tend to concentrate in cities and capital regions, with shares of creative jobs in some capital regions double the country average.

CCS make cities and regions attractive places to work, live and visit. Moreover, CCS support economic growth because they have positive spill-overs on local economies as inputs to tourism and other economic activities. CCS also contribute to regional development by encouraging innovation, supporting health and well-being and contributing to the vibrancy of places (OECD, 2022).

CCS businesses and labour markets are clustered in cities and capital regions. Places with established cultural scenes (often large cities) help the sector’s small firms and its workers share resources and knowledge. In most countries, capital regions have the highest shares of cultural employment (Figure 1.18). For example, in Germany, cultural employment makes up 10% of total employment in Berlin (6 pp higher than the national average) but only 3% in the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. In the Czech Republic and Hungary, the share of cultural employment in their capital regions (Prague and Budapest) is more than double their national average.

Over the 5 years preceding the COVID-19 crisis, employment in the cultural sector grew in 115 out of 170 large regions. However, this growth is relative, as the employment growth in culture exceeded total regional employment growth in only ten regions, including Liguria (Italy) or Upper Norrland (Sweden). There are large regional disparities in the evolution of the CCS employment share over the 2014-19 period, especially in Greece and Italy where the regional range between the highest region gaining in CCS share with the one losing the most exceeds two percentage points (Figure 1.19).

More than half of OECD regions saw declines in cultural employment between 2019 and 2020 (average employment decline of 1.5% during the first year of the pandemic). Nonetheless, in three-quarters of OECD regions, employment in CCS declined less than in other sectors. CCS employment may have been less affected during the pandemic because, while the pandemic containment measures had large negative impacts on sub-sectors of CCS such as museums and performing arts, other sub-sectors such as television and video games saw increases in activity (OECD, 2022). Furthermore, many CCS workers hold multiple jobs, thus job losses in other sectors of the economy might lead those who had previously worked in CCS as a second job to report it as their main employment (EENCA, 2020).

Regional governments remain a key source of financial support to CCS. Across all OECD countries for which there is available data, subnational governments spend a higher proportion of their budget on funding cultural services than national governments. Indeed, in 2019, around 60% of total government spending on culture came from regional governments across OECD countries. There was, however, significant variation across national contexts. For example, around 90% of cultural spending came from regional governments in Belgium, whereas this figure was only around 30% in Israel (Figure 1.20). Moreover, within countries, subnational spending on culture varies across regions. In Canada, the slightly broader category of government spending on culture (which includes recreational activities and religion) ranges from 1.3% in Prince Edward Island to 4% in British Columbia. Subnational financing for CCS may become even more important as national budgets are tighter now than before the COVID-19 crisis.

EENCA (2020), The Status and Working Conditions of Artists and Cultural and Creative Professionals, European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual.

OECD (2022), The Culture Fix: Creative People, Places and Industries, Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED), OECD Publishing, Paris,

1.18: Data for Canada, Mexico, the UK and the US are from 2019. Data for Australia is from 2016. The minimum and maximum regional employment shares are only reported for countries with sufficient data for at least two regions.

1.19: Data from Eurostat.

1.20: Government expenditure by function (OECD COFOG).

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at