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Creative industries

The creative economy is an economic field that is based on individual and collective creativity, skills and talent. The creative economy can provide well-being and jobs by creating intellectual property and using this as the primary sales argument. Creative people are at the centre of these processes.

The creative economy started to be discussed seriously in the world in the 1980s. In Estonia and the other European countries, this occurred a few years later. In 2005, the first mapping of the creative economy was conducted in Estonia, in the course of which an attempt was made to define the concept of the creative economy and determine which fields of activity it encompasses.

The definition of the creative economy sector is based on consensus. It changes somewhat over time and differs by region. In Estonia, the fields and sub-fields of activity in the creative economy sector include the following:
Area Sub-area
Architecture architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, planning (related activities)
Audiovisual field film and video, broadcasting
Design product and unique design, design services
Performing arts theatre, dance, festivals
Publishing publishing, printing (related activities)
Cultural heritage
handicraft, museums, libraries
Arts visual arts, retail sales of art supplies, framing, restoration, production of art works (related activities)
Entertainment software smartphone, online, computer and console games; service providers, importers, localisers for game developers (related activities)
Music composers and musicians; production and live performances; manufacture and sale of musical instruments; reproduction and sales of recordings; auxiliary activities related to concert organising (related activities)
Advertising advertising, media intermediation

Between 2008 and 2013, the promotion of the creative economy was in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications’ area of responsibility. Starting in 2014, the development of the creative economy has been the assignment of the Ministry of Culture, based on the principles of cultural policy delineated by Culture 2020, the Estonian Business Growth Strategy 2014-2020, and the provisions of the implementation plan of the European Union Structural and Investment Funds for 2014-2020



To date, the Estonian creative economy sector has been mapped by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research on four occasions. The latest data, collected in 2018, and the data collected in 2015-16 indicate the following: 

  • The revenue of the creative economy sector totals €1,481 million (2.9% of GDP).
  • The creative economy sector employs 30,681 people (4.8% of those employed).
  • 9,098 companies and institutions (11.6% of the total) are active in the creative economy sector or “culture and creative industries”

Cultural industries

Cultural industries is a branch of the economy, which produces and distributes goods and services that are believed to have special properties, uses or purposes at the time of their development, which include or carry cultural value despite their commercial value. This includes theatre performances, the visual arts, cultural heritage, cinema, DVDs and videos, television and radio, video games, new media, music, books and printed materials.

Creative industries

Creative industries, as opposed to cultural industries, also include other areas of the economy, which use culture as an input and have a cultural dimension, but the output of which is mainly functional (i.e., architecture, design, fashion, advertising). In Estonia the term “creative industries” is used to denote the same meaning as the European Union term “cultural and creative industries” or “culture and creative industries”.


Creative industries and the European Union

The European Union is working toward preserving Europe’s common cultural heritage and supporting and promoting Europe’s art and creative industries. Every four years, the European Commission adopts a new work schedule, which ensures the strategic framework for the European Union’s cultural sector. The following four priorities have been established by the 2015–2018 work schedule: 1) accessible and inclusive culture; 2) cultural heritage; 3) cultural and creative sectors: creative economy and innovation; and 4) the promotion of cultural diversity. The priorities will be carried out with the help of 20 specific measures. Three strategic goals have been established in the 2019-2022 work schedule, along with the relevant social, economic and external indicators: 1) the implementation of cultural influence for the promotion of social cohesion; 2) support for culture-based creativity in education and innovation, and for the promotion of employment and economic growth; and 3) the strengthening of international cultural relations.

The Creative Europe programme provides a means for supporting Europe’s cinema, art and creative economy, in order to create jobs in Europe and accelerate economic growth, as well as to be open to new international opportunities, markets and target groups. 

Between 2014 and 2020, a total of €20 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the development of Estonia’s creative economy, along with the self-financing of those carrying out the projects.
Main partners

Enterprise Estonia (EAS)
Enterprise Estonia is the organisation that is implementing and carrying out the creative economy development measure. Enterprise Estonia carries out many other programmes that are also available to the representatives of the creative economy sector, including programmes related to awareness, knowledge and skills, clusters and co-marketing.


Anu-Maaja Pallok
Adviser (Creative Industries)

Phone +372 628 2234


Last updated: 8 February 2019