Creative Economy

The creative industries comprise an economic sector based on individual and collective creativity, skills and talent, which is able to create prosperity and jobs through the creation of intellectual property and its use as the main selling point, and in which creative thinking and creative people are central to the processes.

The creative economy began to be talked about more seriously in the world in the 1980s, and in Estonia and other European countries a few decades later. In 2005, the first mapping and analysis of the creative economy was conducted in Estonia. Within this framework an attempt was made to formulate a definition of the creative economy and to define the areas included therein.

Internationally, both the cultural and creative sectors as well as the cultural and creative industries are spoken about.

Cultural Industries

Cultural industries are the branch of the economy that produces and distributes goods and services, which, at the time of their development, are considered to have a specific characteristic, use or purpose which encompasses or conveys cultural value, regardless of their potential commercial value. These include, but are not limited to, the performing arts, visual arts, cultural heritage, cinema, DVD and video, television and radio, video games, new media, music, books and publications.

Creative Industries

Creative industries include, in addition to the cultural economy, those industries that use culture as an input and have a cultural dimension, but with an output that is mainly functional (architecture, design, fashion, advertising). In Estonia, the term “creative economy” is used in the sense of the terms “cultural and creative economy” or “cultural and creative industry”, which are used in the European Union.

The definition of the creative industries sector is stipulatory, changes over time and varies somewhat from country to country or region to region. In Estonia, the areas and sub-areas of the creative industries sector are as follows:

Sector Sub-sector
Architecture architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture; civil engineering design (related field of activity)
Audiovisual field film and video, broadcasting
Design product and original design, design services
Performing Arts theatre, dance, festivals 
Publishing publishing, printing (associated activity)
Cultural Heritage handicrafts, museums, libraries
Art visual arts;
retail sale of art supplies, framing, restoration, and production of works of art, (associated activities)
Entertainment Software mobile, online, computer and console games; software
service providers for game developers, importers, localisers (associated activities)
Music authors and performers, production, live performance;
private schools, manufacture and sale of musical instruments, production and sale of recordings, ancillary activities for concert organisation (associated activities)
Advertising advertising, media delivery


The Estonian creative economy sector has now been surveyed four times by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research. The last report, which was completed in 2018 and based on data from 2015-16, shows that:

  • The total income of the creative industries sector is €1,481 million (2.9% of GDP).
  • 30,681 people (4.8% of the employed) work in the creative industries sector.
  • There are 9,098 companies and institutions operating in the creative economy sector (11.6% of companies).

Important partners

Enterprise Estonia
Enterprise Estonia, established in 2000, is a state foundation, the aim of which is to develop the Estonian economy through three main areas of activity:

  • Development of Estonian companies and strengthening of their export capacity
  • Increasing tourism revenues
  • Attracting foreign investments with high added value to Estonia

Among other things, Enterprise Estonia is focused on the application and implementation of the measures for the development of the creative economy.


Anu-Maaja Pallok

Adviser (Creative Industries)

Last updated: 12.12.2020