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A snapshot of China’s creative industries

Creative workforce Arts Screen industry Creative & digital China

This report provides an overview of China’s visual arts, live entertainment, film and video, video games and VR/AR sectors. It identifies specific sub-sectors of opportunity for trade and collaboration between Chinese and international businesses. 

Key findings include:


  • China is the world’s largest art market. The market is dominated by traditional art. However, sales in contemporary art and western art are growing as China’s middle class expands
  • Art is seen as a way of attracting customers to shopping malls. In first-tier Chinese cities, 3% of the footprint of shopping centres is dedicated to arts and culture

Live entertainment

  • Box office revenues from live entertainment and theatre is booming, and in 2015, total box office revenue across China was GB£1.9 billion, an increase of 9% over the previous year. Revenue from music concerts and festivals increased dramatically, up 24%
  • Musicals are the most commercially successful theatrical import to China with foreign musicals attracting the largest audiences, and can successfully fill the largest venues in Beijing and Shanghai. Despite the growing quality of locally- produced musicals, imported performances are still the most popular
  • Demand for children’s and family theatre is growing as a result of the growth of the middle class in China. Exposing children to a variety of cultural experiences, including theatre, is seen by middle-class parents as an important part of their education and personal development. This has driven a 21% increase in box office revenue for children’s theatre between 2014 and 2015.

Film and video

  • With over 20% of the global market, China has the fastest growing film industry in the world and is set to overtake the United States as the country with the world’s largest film industry. China has more cinema screen than any other country in the world
  • The Chinese government has put forward a new law to boost the capacity of the domestic film industry and promote Chinese film. This sits alongside China’s overall ‘Going Out’ policy, which encourages China’s economic, political and cultural interests overseas, and its policies on IP and copyright reform.

Video games and VR/AR

  • China is the largest market in the world for video games, accounting for 25% of the global market
  • There is a growing demand for VR experiences to ‘activate’ commercial spaces. By the end of 2016, China had more than three thousand VR arcades in shopping malls, internet cafes and amusement parks
  • China dominates international investment in VR, with almost 60% of all investment in VR coming from China
  • China needs to develop the skills and capabilities of its domestic talent if it is to realise its aspirations for the domestic film industry, particularly in VFX and computer animation.
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