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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.

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.

Economic modeling undertaken by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), based on the most recent available data (2015), estimates that without the International New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) exports would shrink by $257 million, household consumption by $144 million and real GDP by $176 million per annum.  Overall the screen industry overall contributes around $1.05 billion to real GDP and around $706 million to exports annually. The report also highlights the spin-off economic benefits for other industries such as tourism and screen infrastructure.

Read the November 2017 report here.

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. 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.

A March 2018 report 'The Value of Sport' released by Sport NZ, explored the value of sport to New Zealanders, their communities and our country.

Read the 2018 report 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 15 agencies, including Crown entities, non-government organisations (NGOs), and a statutory body.

Government  makes  a  significant  contribution  to  the  broad  cultural  sector  each  year.  In  2016/17, the Government invested around $370 million in heritage, the arts, media and sport through Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage and Vote Sport and Recreation and also considered policy and legislative settings, in particular in the media sector, to ensure they remain fit for purpose. Support for the cultural  sector  is  also  provided  through  other  public  sources,  most  notably  education  and  local government. A further $100million is provided by the Lottery Grants Board each year to four key cultural sector agencies in their capacity as Statutory Bodies.

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 19th March 2018