Creative industries in Northern Ireland

Creative businesses and employment in Northern Ireland


Creative industries are emerging as one of the fastest developing and increasingly important sectors of the UK economy. They are recognised as one of the key economic drivers for future growth in Northern Ireland.

Creative employment in Northern Ireland

The Department for Communities (DfC) estimates the number of people in creative employment in 2020 in Northern Ireland at 33,000 or 3.9% of the local workforce.

Creative employment covers:

  • employees and self-employed individuals in creative industries
  • employees and self-employed individuals doing creative jobs outside creative industries

Within the creative industries group, IT software and computer services provided the largest level of employment of around 13,000 jobs in 2020.

Creative businesses in Northern Ireland

In 2020, there were 3,500 creative businesses in Northern Ireland, accounting for 3.8% of all business units in Northern Ireland. The number of creative enterprises increased by 2% in 2020 compared with 2019.

There were a total of around 90,875 businesses in Northern Ireland in 2020, an increase of 1 per cent in 2019. 

Economic impact of creative industries in Northern Ireland

Gross Value Added (GVA) for the creative industries was £1,311 million in 2019, representing 3.1% of Northern Ireland's total GVA. In absolute terms, GVA for the creative industries increased by 12% between 2018 and 2019 compared to a 2.7% increase for total GVA. Overall, GVA for the creative industries has generally increased over the trend period from 2010 to 2020.

Among the creative industries groups, IT software and computer services provided the greatest contribution to Northern Ireland GVA (£831 million).

The greatest increase in GVA from 2018 to 2019 was in the museums, galleries and libraries group (100%). However, this increase followed a 33% decrease in 2018.

Source: The Department for Communities bulletin on key economic estimates for the creative industries for Northern Ireland.