In Estonian cultural policy, the creative economy is defined as 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. Nevertheless, there are artistic areas where the creative economy has remained more synonymous for commercial culture. The creative economy discourse continues to be a politically popular argument to justify funding decisions directed at it.
Creative industries are an integral part of the creative economy. They include the areas of the creative economy that use culture as an input and that have a cultural dimension, but the output of which is mainly functional (i.e. architecture, design, fashion and 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”.
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.
Between 2008 and 2013, the development of the creative economy was a responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication. Since 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.
The General Principles of Cultural Policy up to 2020 state, that the state supports the development of creative industries as part of a knowledge-based economy. The objective is to use innovation and creativity to raise the country’s competitiveness, thereby transforming from an agent to a creator of value. Professional agents have an important role in the organisation of cultural life and creative industries.
The main partner for the creative industries is Enterprise Estonia — 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.
There are also thematic development centres, such as Creative Estonia, Estonian Centre of Architecture, Estonian Design Centre, Estonian Film Institute, Creative Gate, Music Estonia, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Centre, ARS Art Factory, IGDA Estonia and Digix.