New Report on Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada’s Provinces and Territories

Hill Strategies Research has released its latest report on Arts and Cultural Workers in Canada's Provinces and Territories, based on the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) and historical data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The report examines the number of artists, selected demographic characteristics of artists, artists' incomes, and trends in the number of artists. The report also provides comparable information for cultural workers and the overall labour force.

The study shows that, among Canada’s provinces, British Columbia has the most artists as a percentage of its labour force, and the second-highest percentage of its labour force in cultural occupations.

Below are excerpts from the study, including statistics related to British Columbia. Read the report in its entirety by clicking here

A previous report in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series (A Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada) showed that there are 136,600 artists in Canada who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May of 2011 (which is when the National Household Survey data were collected). The number of artists represents 0.78% of the overall Canadian labour force. The number of artists is slightly larger than the labour force in automotive manufacturing (133,000).

There are 671,100 people in cultural occupations, comprising 3.82% of the overall labour force. The number of cultural workers (671,100) is over two-and-a-half times larger than the labour force in real estate (254,200), about double the labour force on farms (339,400), and slightly lower than the labour force in the wholesale trade industry (733,500).

Based on Labour Force Survey estimates, there was a 56% increase in the number of artists in Canada between 1989 and 2013. This is higher than the 38% increase in the overall labour force. The number of cultural workers in Canada increased by 47% between 1989 and 2013.

Artists in the provinces and territories

Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada's Provinces and Territories shows that, among the ten provinces, British Columbia has the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations (1.08%). British Columbia has 24,800 artists who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May of 2011.

Ontario also has a higher concentration of artists (0.87%) than the Canadian average (0.78%). With 58,100 artists, Ontario has more than twice as many artists as any other province.

The 3,400 artists in Nova Scotia place it third among the ten provinces in terms of the proportion of the labour force in arts occupations (0.72%).

Quebec has the second-largest number of artists (28,200) and is fourth among the provinces in terms of the concentration of artists (0.69%).

In Manitoba, the 4,200 artists represent 0.68% of the provincial labour force.

No other province has over 0.6% of its workforce in arts occupations:

  • Alberta's 11,300 artists comprise 0.54% of the provincial labour force.
  • Saskatchewan's 2,800 artists comprise 0.50% of the province's labour force.
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are approximately 1,200 artists, representing 0.47% of the province's labour force.
  • In New Brunswick, the 1,700 artists represent 0.43% of the province's labour force.

No estimates of fewer than 500 artists are provided in this report because of concerns over data reliability. Prince Edward Island and the individual territories (i.e., Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) each have fewer than 500 artists.

In the three territories (grouped together to enhance data reliability), the 560 artists represent 0.98% of the labour force. This would rank second among the provinces behind only British Columbia.

In the four Atlantic provinces (i.e., Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick grouped together), the 6,700 artists represent 0.56% of the labour force.

Artists' average incomes

Quebec and Ontario are the only provinces where artists' average incomes from all sources ($34,000 and $34,900, respectively) are above the Canadian average ($32,800). In Alberta, artists' average incomes ($32,600) are very similar to the national average. In the other provinces and territories, artists' average incomes are:

  • $30,800 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • $29,100 in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
  • $28,400 in Saskatchewan.
  • $27,400 in the three territories.
  • $26,800 in Manitoba.
  • $25,700 in New Brunswick.

In Canada, the average incomes of artists are 32% lower than the average incomes in the overall labour force. Artists' average incomes are well below the overall labour force average in every province. In Quebec, artists come closest to overall labour force incomes, with a difference of 22%. The income difference is between 30% and 40% in most other provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador (30%), Ontario (also 30%), Nova Scotia (31%), New Brunswick (36%), Manitoba (37%), and British Columbia (also 37%). The income difference is 40% in Saskatchewan and 44% in Alberta. In the three territories, the income difference for artists is 53%.

Cultural workers in the provinces and territories

Among the provinces and territories, the Yukon has the highest percentage of its labour force in cultural occupations (4.62%, well above the national average of 3.82%). There are 970 cultural workers in the Yukon.

British Columbia has the second-highest percentage of its labour force in cultural occupations (4.34%). British Columbia has 100,100 cultural workers.

Ontario has 4.09% of its labour force in cultural occupations (273,300 workers). The percentages in Quebec (4.04%, 165,200 workers) and Nunavut (3.99%, 510 workers) are also above the Canadian average (3.82%).

The other provinces and territory have less than 3.5% of their labour forces in cultural occupations:

  • The 770 cultural workers in the Northwest Territories comprise 3.33% of the territory's labour force.
  • In Manitoba, the 19,800 cultural workers represent 3.16% of the provincial labour force.
  • The 14,900 cultural workers in Nova Scotia represent 3.14% of the province's labour force.
  • Alberta's 63,800 cultural workers comprise 3.05% of the provincial labour force.
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are 6,600 cultural workers, representing 2.63% of the provincial labour force.
  • Saskatchewan's 13,800 cultural workers comprise 2.48% of the province's labour force.
  • The 1,900 cultural workers on Prince Edward Island represent 2.47% of the Island's labour force.
  • In New Brunswick, the 9,500 cultural workers represent 2.44% of the province's labour force.

Growth in artists and cultural workers between 1989 and 2013

The Labour Force Survey provides historical estimates of the number of artists and cultural workers. Because of the relatively small sample size of the LFS when dealing with smaller population groups (such as artists and cultural workers), there is substantial unexplained year-to-year volatility in estimates based on the LFS. In order to smooth out these irregular fluctuations, this report provides historical estimates using three-year moving averages. LFS historical data are available from 1987 to 2013, and three-year moving averages are provided for 1989 to 2013.

In order to compare growth in the number of artists, cultural workers, and the overall labour force, an index was derived. The index was set at 100 in 1989 for each group of workers.

In Canada, there was 56% growth in the number of artists between 1989 and 2013. As shown in Figure ES2, this rate of growth, along with the 47% increase in cultural workers, exceeded the growth in the overall labour force (38%).

The growth in the number of artists was greater than overall labour force growth in four of the seven provinces and regions presented in Figure ES2. The exceptions are: Alberta, where large growth in the number of artists (58%) was exceeded by very strong growth in the overall labour force (76%); Saskatchewan, where a small decrease in the number of artists (-1%) was lower than growth in cultural workers (24%) and the overall labour force (17%); and Manitoba, where the 23% increase in the number of artists essentially matched the growth in the overall labour force (24%).

The growth in the number of artists was highest in British Columbia (74% increase) and Quebec (73%). There were also strong increases in the number of artists in the Atlantic provinces (60%), Alberta (58%), and Ontario (48%).

Between 1989 and 2013, the number of cultural workers increased the most in British Columbia (79%), Alberta (62%), and Quebec (59%).

British Columbia

There are 24,800 artists in British Columbia who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May of 2011.

The number of artists represents 1.08% of the overall B.C. labour force. British Columbia has the highest concentration of artists among the provinces. One in every 93 B.C. workers is an artist.

The 24,800 artists in British Columbia comprise 18% of the national total, higher than the province's 13% share of Canada's overall labour force.

There are 100,100 people in cultural occupations in B.C., comprising 4.34% of the overall labour force (also highest among the provinces). In other words, one in every 23 B.C. workers has a cultural occupation.

Cultural workers in British Columbia represent 15% of all cultural workers in Canada, compared with the province's 13% share of Canada's overall labour force.

The total individual income of British Columbia's artists averages $29,100, a figure that is 37% lower than the overall labour force average ($46,600). Cultural workers have average individual incomes of $39,500 (15% less than the overall labour force).

In B.C., the average employment income of artists is $24,000, compared with $44,100 for the overall labour force, a difference of 46%. Cultural workers' average earnings ($36,200) are 18% lower than the average earnings of the overall labour force ($44,100).

Artists by demographic and employment characteristics

In British Columbia, women represent 50% of artists but only 48% of both cultural workers and the overall labour force.

Artists tend to be older than the overall provincial labour force: there are slightly fewer artists than the overall labour force under 25 years of age (8% vs. 13%) but many more artists 55 and over (29% vs. 20%).

B.C.'s artists have much higher levels of formal education than the overall provincial labour force. The percentage of artists with a bachelor's degree or higher (43%) is much higher than the rate in the overall labour force (26%).

The rate of self-employment among artists is many times higher than the self-employment rate in the overall labour force: 58% of British Columbia's artists are self-employed, compared with just 13% of the overall provincial labour force.

Aboriginal artists represent 3.8% of all British Columbia artists, which is slightly higher than the percentage of Aboriginal people in cultural occupations (3.1%) and slightly lower than the percentage in the overall provincial labour force (4.4%).

Visible minority residents represent 19% of all artists in B.C., which is lower than the percentage of visible minority people in cultural occupations (22%) and the overall labour force (26%).

Immigrant artists account for 28% of all British Columbia artists, the same percentage as in cultural occupations and essentially the same as in the overall labour force (29%).

Artists by occupation

Report statistics show that musicians and singers are the largest arts occupation in British Columbia (6,100, or 25% of all 24,800 artists), followed by authors and writers (4,100, or 17%), visual artists (3,700, or 15%), and producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations (3,500, or 14%). The five other arts occupations each account for 11% or less of B.C.'s artists: artisans and craftspersons (2,600, or 11%), actors and comedians (2,100, or 8%), dancers (1,400, or 5%), conductors, composers, and arrangers (630, or 2%), and other performers (610, also 2%).

The report also shows that, in four arts occupations, artists have average individual incomes that are below the low-income cutoff for a single person living in a community of 500,000 people or more ($22,600). This is the case for musicians and singers ($20,200), dancers ($21,400), artisans ($21,700), and actors ($22,200). The average incomes in the five other arts occupations are: $24,200 for other performers; $26,000 for visual artists; $35,200 for conductors, composers, and arrangers; $37,200 for authors and writers; and $50,800 for producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations.

Median incomes for B.C. artists ($19,300) as well as for seven of the nine arts occupations are below the low-income cutoff for a single person living in a community of 500,000 people or more ($22,600). The only two exceptions are authors and writers as well as producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations.

Trends in the number of artists between 1989 and 2013

There was a 74% increase in the number of artists in British Columbia between 1989 and 2013 (based on a three-year moving average of Labour Force Survey estimates). This is higher than the 60% increase in the overall provincial labour force. The number of cultural workers in B.C. increased by 79% between 1989 and 2013.

Methodological notes

  • Because of major methodological changes between the 2006 census and the 2011 National Household Survey, data in this report are not comparable to data in previous reports in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series. A subsequent reports in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series will examine artists in local areas.
  • Readers should be aware that the estimate of cultural workers in this report differs conceptually from recent estimates provided by the Culture Satellite Account (CSA). The estimate in this report is based on occupations, while the estimates in the CSA report are based on culture industries and culture products. In addition to using a different methodology, the CSA estimates have a different base year and use different data sources.
  • Individuals are classified in the occupation in which they worked the most hours during a specific reference week. If they did not work during the reference week, they are classified based on the job at which they worked the longest since January 1, 2010. Artists who spent more time at another occupation than at their artwork during the reference week would be categorized in the other occupation.
  • Unless otherwise noted, the labour force statistics in this report refer to the experienced labour force, which includes all those who worked (for pay or in self-employment) during the NHS reference week as well as unemployed people who had worked since January 1, 2010.
  • Individuals who are employed or self-employed are captured in each occupation.
  • Artists who teach in post-secondary, secondary, or elementary schools are classified as teachers or professors and are therefore excluded from the count of artists. Instructors and teachers in some settings (such as private arts schools, academies, and conservatories) are included in the arts occupations.
  • The 2011 National Household Survey collected earnings information for 2010, the most recent full calendar year.
  • Income sources include wages and salaries, net self-employment income, investment income, retirement pensions, other income sources, as well as government transfer payments.
  • The employment income statistics (also called "earnings") include wages and salaries as well as net self-employment income.
  • The earnings statistics include amounts received from all employment and self-employment positions in 2010, not just the position at which the respondent worked the most hours during the reference week. In some cases, individuals may have worked in a different occupation in 2010 (the basis for earnings statistics) than the one in which they worked the most hours during the NHS reference week (May 1 to 7, 2011 - the basis for occupational classifications).
  • Artists' project grants would not be included in employment earnings but would be captured in other income sources.
  • Canadians 15 or older are captured in the occupational data.

To read the full Hill Strategies Research report, click here

 

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