are now in the creative age – a time when the generation
of economic value in a growing number of sectors depends directly
on the ability of firms to embed creativity and cultural content
within the goods and services they produce.
such as clothing, furniture and food products depend on creative
and cultural content for their competitive success, and consumers
are willing to pay higher prices for products that are well designed
and culturally distinctive. Knowledge-intensive products such as
computers, mobile communication devices and biomedical technologies
are born of the innovative spark of well educated, creative workers.
They also exploit appealing and ingenious design to enhance their
success in the marketplace. Furthermore, a set of creative industries
producing ‘cultural goods’ – including film and
television production, new media, electronic games, publishing,
advertising, design, music, and the visual and performing arts –
now generate a large and steadily increasing share of our international
trade, employment and gross domestic product locally, regionally
Not only does the generation of economic value flow
from this creative economy, but the people who work in creative
occupations and industries are themselves drawn to places that offer
a critical mass of creative and cultural activity, broadly defined.
These are places where the arts flourish, with vibrant and lively
local scenes in music, literature, theatre and visual arts. They
are cities that host cultural traditions from around the world.
They welcome newcomers from a variety of ethnic, racial, religious
and national origins, and provide opportunities for their easy social
and economic integration. They are also places that enshrine freedom
of cultural expression, places that nurture the creative act.
These developments present Toronto with an enormous
opportunity – an opportunity to nurture and use its impressive
creative assets, securing its place among the world’s great
Many cities around the globe have come to recognize
the economic and social benefits that flow from the creative economy,
and are now implementing aggressive policies to nurture and promote
creative and cultural activity. In world cities like London, New
York and Berlin, and in smaller centres like Austin, Texas and Providence,
Rhode Island, the development of the creative economy has become
a strategic priority, and not only for generating wealth and employment
opportunity. Creative and cultural activity enhances a city’s
quality of place, helps to reclaim and revitalize neighbourhoods,
enables more innovative thinking and problem-solving across all
sectors of the economy, and shapes a city’s identity in the
face of increasing competition for talent, investment and recognition.
Creative and cultural activity is also a powerful vehicle for community
development and engagement, providing opportunities for economically
disadvantaged neighbourhoods and social groups.
has many of the critical ingredients required of a dynamic and globally
successful creative city. Its unique assets include an enviable
base of talented and creative workers, a level of cultural diversity
unsurpassed by any other city in the world, and a strong reputation
as a safe, socially harmonious city of liveable neighbourhoods.
Its regional economy boasts a wide array of creative sectors that
form the foundations of its economic base. Science-based creative
sectors like biotechnology and biomedical technologies have taken
root and, thanks to major new investments such as the MaRS Centre,
are poised to play increasingly important roles as economic engines
for the Toronto region. Recent investments in the city’s major
cultural venues and institutions and a thriving grassroots arts
and music scene are combining to create a ‘buzz’ about
this region nationally and around the world.2
many enviable strengths, Toronto’s creative economy is now
at a critical juncture in its evolution. Competition from other
major cities around the world continues to escalate, as they take
strategic steps to position themselves as creative economy leaders.
Meanwhile, at home, cultural activity still struggles to attract
the continuing financial and program support it requires to thrive.
And while there is abundant evidence of innovation in many corners
of the creative economy, the city lacks a region-wide, strategic
approach to recognize, nurture and scale up home-grown successes,
while also building on best practices identified abroad.
Therefore, this report aims to do three things:
1. Profile Toronto’s creative strengths to
demonstrate that the city has many of the assets necessary for its
creative economy to achieve its potential as an engine of future
2. Highlight the challenges Toronto must overcome
if it is to support the creative economy in a truly comprehensive
and sustainable way.
opportunities to strengthen Toronto’s creative economy. These
opportunities are supported by instructive examples from other cities
from which Toronto can learn.
recognizes that the most effective way to enhance the city’s
creative future is to enlist the ingenuity, know-how, energy and
resources of a broad spectrum of actors in the region. It also acknowledges
that the necessary financial resources have not yet been directed
towards this goal. Realizing the opportunities identified in this
report will depend on the respective and combined efforts of all
levels of government, private sector, non-profit organizations and
As a creative city, Toronto must seize the present
opportunity to deliver the social and economic benefits described
above and assume its place among the world’s truly great cities.