Hill Strategies Research on Performing Arts

The latest issue of Hill StrategiesArts Research Monitor focuses on Canadian statistics on the performing arts, including a detailed analysis of data on performing companies, a survey of the social impacts of dance organizations, and an article on performing arts attendance in Quebec.

Performing Arts, 2014

Statistics Canada, 2016

Statistics Canada's biennial performing arts data provide information about not-for-profit and for-profit organizations in five main areas: 1) theatre companies (except musical theatre); 2) musical theatre and opera companies, including dinner theatre; 3) dance companies; 4) musical groups and artists, including orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and popular music groups; and 5) other performing arts companies such as circus companies and ice skating shows.

The 2014 data incorporate important methodological changes from previous years: “data from this table reflect important improvements Statistics Canada made to its methods and processes used to compile its annual economic statistics. Users are advised to use caution in making comparisons between current series and previously terminated series.” In particular, the data tables now include smaller companies that had previously been excluded, thereby increasing the overall sample size.

Hill Strategies has analyzed Statistics Canada’s preliminary data for 2014, with a particular focus on not-for-profit organizations, for this issue of the Arts Research Monitor. Because of Statistics Canada’s methodological changes, historical comparisons have not been made.

Operating revenues were $1.91 billion for all performing arts groups in 2014. Operating expenses were $1.68 billion, resulting in a collective operating surplus equivalent to 12.1% of revenues.

Not-for-profit performing organizations had $832 million in total revenues in 2014, somewhat less than for-profit organizations ($1.08 billion). Total operating expenses of not-for-profit performing organizations ($817 million) were slightly lower than operating revenues, leaving a surplus of 1.8% of operating revenues. Salaries, wages, and benefits (excluding fees paid to contract workers) of not-for-profit performing arts organizations were $300 million in 2014, or 36% of operating expenses.

For not-for-profit groups, earned revenues accounted for 41% of operating revenues, with the largest component being performance-related revenues (34% of total revenues). Public sector grants represented 22% of operating revenues in 2014, including funding from provinces and territories (10%), the federal government (7%), and municipalities (5%). Private sector revenues represented 18% of total revenues, led by individual donations (7%).

Total attendance was 10.8 million at 32,800 performances by not-for-profit performing organizations in 2014, for an average of 328 attendees per performance. On a per-performance basis, total revenues equalled $25,400, while performance-related revenues were $8,700. (Performance-related revenues include subscriptions, single ticket sales, contract production revenues, and touring income.) Total revenues per attendee were $77, with performance-related revenues amounting to $26 per attendee.

Key statistics for not-for-profit organizations in each discipline in 2014 follow.

The table below highlights key statistics for not-for-profit organizations in nine provinces in 2014. (Data for Prince Edward Island and the three territories were suppressed by Statistics Canada to ensure respondent confidentiality.

Survey of the Social Impacts of Dance Organizations in Canada

Canada Dance Mapping Study
Canada Council for the Arts, March 2016
Author: Ekos Research Associates

Based on a survey of 367 dance companies, training schools, presenters, and service organizations, this report “aims to provide new knowledge and a more nuanced understanding of the social impact of dance organizations in Canada”. The report defines social impact to include “the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of individuals and communities”. The survey is part of the Canada Dance Mapping Study, a multi-year study of the dance field in Canada that was undertaken by the Canada Council for the Arts in collaboration with the Ontario Arts Council.

As with all online surveys where individuals self-select whether to respond, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses could provide a representative sample of all dance organizations. In fact, the report cautions that, “since the survey is not a probabilistic sample, a response rate or margin of sampling error is not applicable. We have no knowledge about whether or in what ways the respondents are representative of the database – or the Canadian dance field at large. The reader should not extrapolate results beyond the respondents.”

Among the survey respondents, 68% “have offered a dance activity or program over the last three years with the aim of achieving a social impact on the health or well-being of individuals and the community in which they are located or in which they tour”. This percentage is highest among Prairie respondents (83%) and lowest among Quebec respondents (50%). The data are examined for different types of organizations, including dance companies (80% of which offer programming related to health and well-being), leisure dance groups (70%), academies or schools (65%), and presenters or associations (63%).

When social impact programming was broken down into six key areas, the survey results show that the programming is most commonly focussed on community vitality, energy, civic engagement (55% of dance organizations with social impact programming), fostering the physical and psychological well-being of individuals (53%), promoting the healthy development of children (50%), and promoting intellectual enrichment (47%). Smaller proportions of respondents with social impact programming have attempted to foster cultural or linguistic appreciation and understanding (40%) or engage or involve specific, vulnerable and marginalized segments of society (27%). The full report provides details about the anticipated benefits for participants within each of these areas.

In terms of the sectors in which dance organizations have “offered social impact programming in the last three years”, education and schools was most commonly selected (by 56% of those with social impact programming), followed by civic engagement or sense of belonging (55%), sports and recreation (50%), multiculturalism (44%), health (37%), youth issues (also 37%), and seniors' issues (35%).

Classes (72%) and workshops (70%) are the most common ways of delivering programming intended to have social impacts, followed by community arts events (50%) and cultural festivities (39%). Funding for the social impact programming of dance organizations most often comes from “participants pay” or other fee for service arrangements (selected by 68% of those with social programming), individual donations (45%), and government funding (43%).

Most of the dance organizations with social impact programming indicated that their efforts have increased over the past three years (58%). Similarly, 54% expect that their social impact work will increase over the next three years.

Performing arts attendance in Quebec in 2015

(La fréquentation des arts de la scène au Québec en 2015)
Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec, optique culture no 51, September 2016
Author: Claude Fortier

This Quebec report provides information about attendance at theatre, dance, music, comedy, circus, and magic performances in 2015. There were 17,700 performances with an admission fee in Quebec in 2015 (a 3% increase from 2009), which attracted 6.7 million attendees (a 9% decrease from 2009). (This study includes a broader range of organizations than Statistics Canada’s performing arts survey. As such, the performance, attendance, and revenue numbers are much higher than Statistics Canada’s estimates.)

Box office revenues decreased from $274 million in 2009 to $233 million in 2015 (-15%). Box office revenues per paying spectator decreased from $41.97 in 2009 to $38.72 in 2015 (a 2% decrease). Revenues per paying attendee (an approximation of the average ticket price) decreased by 8%, from $41.97 in 2009 to $38.72 in 2015. There was a decrease in complimentary tickets given away for Quebec performances, from 11.9% of attendees in 2009 to 10.8% in 2015.

Variety performances (including comedy, circus, magic, music theatre, and music hall) attracted the largest attendance (2.2 million, 32% of overall attendance) and 32% of box office revenues ($75 million). Attendance at variety performances decreased by 7% between 2009 and 2015.

Performances by singers attracted 1.9 million attendees in 2015 (28% of overall attendance) and $80 million in box office revenues (34% of the total). Attendance at song-based performances varies significantly from year to year and was 14% lower in 2015 than in 2009.

In 2015, attendance at theatre performances in Quebec was 1.5 million (22% of overall attendance), earning $37 million in box office revenues (16% of the total). Theatre attendance decreased by 7% between 2009 and 2015.

Music performances (excluding singers) received 976,000 attendees (14%) and $32 million in box office receipts (also 14%) in 2015. Music attendance decreased by 2% between 2009 and 2015.

Dance performances attracted 225,000 attendees in 2015 (3%) and $9 million in box office revenues (4%). Attendance at dance performances decreased by 17% between 2009 and 2015.

The report highlights a number of other interesting aspects of performing arts attendance in Quebec in 2015:

  • The 6.7 million paid admissions represented 66% of total tickets available.
  • Quebec productions accounted for 75% of total attendance and 67% of box office receipts.
  • Performances in Montreal accounted for 47% of total attendance and 52% of box office receipts.
  • Among the 25 performances with the highest attendance in 2015, there were 13 comedy performances, three theatre performances, three circus or magic performances, two concerts by singers (both in English), one music theatre performance, one ballet, one storytelling performance, and one vaudeville show.

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