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Cultural sector overviews

New Zealand’s cultural sector encompasses a broad range of cultural and creative industries and activities:  film, music, broadcasting, design and digital technologies; our built heritage, libraries, literature, museums and galleries, performing and visual arts.

Economy and Employment

The sector is an engine of growth for the New Zealand economy.  In recent years, it has either matched or outpaced other sectors of the economy in terms of income, employment and value added.

In the five years to 2014, GDP in the arts and culture sub-set increased by 2.6 percent per annum compared with 1.6 percent per annum in total economy.

We along with Creative New Zealand share a mutual interest in achieving a better understanding of the contribution the arts make to New Zealand’s economy, and also in measuring the contribution more accurately.

As a first step our two organisations commissioned Infometrics to gather information on the economic characteristics of the sector. While the findings are robust we recognise a significant portion of the arts economy isn’t captured by the data sets and the resulting calculations are conservative. This March 2015 working report provides a useful start towards gaining a better understanding in this area and the data sets available will be useful in informing government policy and funding decisions.

Read the Working Paper: An economic profile of the arts in New Zealand here.

The music industry contributed $484 million to New Zealand GDP in 2015. View the NZ Music Industry Economic Report 2016 here.

In July 2017, ground-breaking research into design’s economic contribution to New Zealand’s economy showed that during the last year alone design contributed $10.1b to New Zealand’s GDP (approximately 4.2%).

The research was undertaken by PwC and commissioned by a national design consortium (DesignCo). Professor Claire Robinson, convenor of DesignCo, said at the launch of the research: “There is a strong correlation between national prosperity, economic growth and a thriving design sector. International evidence confirms that design leads to more competitive firms making and selling higher value products and services".

Read the design research report here.

For more details, visit Creative New Zealand's arts advocacy page which lists relevant research about the value of the arts.

Sport and recreation also makes a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economy – at around $4.9 billion a year, that’s 2.3 per cent of GDP. Households spend $1.7 billion on sports goods and equipment. The economic, social, health, and personal benefits of sport and recreation to New Zealand have previously been estimated at over $12.2 billion. The above figures are taken from an April 2016 speech made by Jonathan Coleman, Minister for Sport and Recreation. New Zealand’s sport and recreation industries' contribution to New Zealand's GDP is up by $100 million year-on-year, according to research from Skills Active Aotearoa. Read their December 2016 research here.

Architecture of the Sector

The Ministry is the government’s leading advisor on media, cultural and heritage matters. We fund, monitor and support a diverse portfolio of 17 agencies, including Crown entities, non-government organisations (NGOs), and a statutory body.

In the 2017/18 financial year, we will administer $296.104 million for Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage and $89.596 million for Vote Sport and Recreation.

The Ministry delivers its own products and services, including a wide range of publishing projects, managing some heritage assets, and coordinating the First World War centenary commemorations across government. Its work contributes to cultural, educational, economic, and social outcomes, supporting the work of a range of other government agencies.

The Ministry has a leadership role and heads an informal sector cluster of funded agencies, based on voluntary collaboration. It has been working with cultural sector agencies to develop more of a whole-of-sector approach. In addition to engaging on specific policy, research, partnerships and development areas, and aligning some funding strategies, agencies have more recently been collaborating on a range of initiatives to improve value for money and develop new sources of funding outside government.

The sector is home to tens of thousands of organisations which fit broadly into categories of heritage, culture and media. 

For a general overview of the cultural sector, read our Cultural policy in New Zealand document.

Cultural policy in New Zealand.

Related webpages

Arts and culture



Updated on 11th August 2017