News | 1 November 2023
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Wellington keeps its most creative city crown

Wellington continues to reign supreme with an unbroken record since the year 2000 as the most creative city in Aotearoa according to the latest Infometrics Creativity Index.

Footnote Dance group perform in front of St James theatre as part of reopening event
Footnote NZ Dance perform at reopening of St James Theatre

The Infometrics index looks at the proportion of a city’s workforce involved in creative and artistic occupations and industries, and points to a link between the creative arts and economic development.

Wellington had a Creative Index of 6.9 in 2022 meaning 6.9 percent of Wellington City’s workforce (12,403 people) were employed in the creative sector last year.

The index puts Wellington well ahead of Queenstown, Auckland and Dunedin, and four of its neighbours (Porirua, Lower Hutt, Kāpiti Coast, South Wairarapa) are also in the top ten, making it the most creative region of Aotearoa.

Mayor Tory Whanau says the creative community is the beating heart of Pōneke, and this result shows it remains strong.

“Wellington has always embraced its creative capital status, it’s what sets us apart from other cities.

“It also shows Wellington City Council’s on-going commitment to the sector has supported it through some challenging times – particularly our Aho Tini 2030 Arts, Culture, and Creativity Strategy which is providing a strong platform for innovation and creativity in our city.

“We’re also proud and thankful to our talented creative community who help make Wellington the city that it is.”

According to Infometrics data, Wellington City’s creative sector had been declining for three successive years to 2021. The sector bounced back strongly in 2022 with employment in the sector growing 3.7 percent. Strong employment growth helped push the city’s Creativity Index to 6.9 in 2022 from 6.0 the previous year.

Infometrics Chief Executive and Principal Economist Brad Olsen says Wellington City remains the most creative city in New Zealand, with the strongest concentration of creative jobs as a share of total employment in the area, of any area in New Zealand – and by quite a margin!

“Over the last year, there has been an additional 440 creative jobs created in Wellington, with a large number of those additional roles being in post-production services and other film-related work, alongside contributions from museum operations, and advertising and architectural services.

“The fact that Wellington has now been the most creative city for every year since Infometrics has been tracking the sector in 2000 speaks to the sustained strength and importance of the creative sector to Wellington City. Wellington’s position in the top spot hasn’t been threatened, with a big gap between Wellington’s creative concentration and other areas. The concentration of creative jobs in Wellington is also self-reinforcing, creating a creative culture that helps to build talent over time.”

Screen Wellington Manager Tanya Black says Wellington’s thriving screen industry was a key part of the city being recognised for its creativity.

“From blockbusters like Avatar to the charming local comedy Red, White and Brass, the Wellington screen industry continues to punch above its weight internationally making a significant contribution to our culture and economy.

“The industry attracts talented and experienced people who want to move here for what the sector offers them. Wellington is also home to cutting-edge innovative technology in animation, VFX and gaming which is being exported to the world.

“Wellington has also been recognised as UNESCO Creative City of Film which acknowledges the significant cultural contribution the screen sector makes.

“The latest example of this strength is the six-part drama After The Party, which started screening on TVNZ at the weekend. Made in Wellington, it will soon be shown in the UK and Australia and is another example of how our stories have global appeal.”

Still from the film Red White and Brass with cast coming out of tunnel at Wellington Stadium
Red, White & Brass filmed at Wellington Sky Stadium

Tānemahuta Gray, the Artistic Director for Taki Rua Production’s large scale iwi immersive aerial theatre production Hatupatu | Kurungaituku : a forbidden love, which will open the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts in 2024 says: “The performing arts sector continues to bounce back strongly from the COVID challenges, with WOW completing a stellar season, and the Kia Mau Festival growing its audience reach significantly.

“With Tāwhiri - Festivals and Experiences International Jazz Festival just completed, the performing arts schedule is building significantly, and Taki Rua is looking forward to the changes to share their works with hundreds of artists, crew and designers during the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts in February and March next year.

“The investment by Ministry for Culture & Heritage through the Innovation, Capability and Regeneration Funds has played a pivotal role in supporting our sector to remain buoyant and keep our talent staying in the performing arts industry.”

Meg Williams, Chair Toi o Taraika Arts Wellington, says: "Wellington’s creative economy is enabled by the diverse creative ecosystem we have here – from flax-roots community arts, to performing and visual arts, to film and digital, to major events and festivals, to ngā toi Māori. This mix means we have skilled workers, artists and creatives in our communities, an expressive culture, and inspiration on tap.

“To continue to be a place creative people want to work, we must be a City that actively champions creativity, arts, culture and ngā toi Māori.

“In challenging times, let’s play to our strengths and nurture what is authentically central to Wellington’s DNA. As this report shows, creativity is what the capital excels at."