Hill Strategies Research on Culture and Tourism, Facilities, and Social Benefits

In this issue: Canadian and American research into the links between the arts, culture, tourism, local planning, facilities, and well-being.

Ontario Arts and Culture Tourism Profile
Ontario Arts Council, November 2012
Author: Research Resolutions & Consulting Ltd.
Visit link for full report: http://www.arts.on.ca/Page4922.aspx

The report is based on four large-scale surveys of Canadians, Americans, and overseas visitors to Ontario, including basic information about travel (data from 2010) as well as travel motivations (2006).

One of the key findings of the report is that the 9.5 million overnight cultural tourists have a substantial economic impact on Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product ($3.7 billion). This economic impact generated about 68,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in taxes for all levels of government.

The report delves into the factors behind this level of impact. For instance, overnight cultural tourists spend more time and money in the province than other overnight tourists. The report notes that “arts and culture tourists spend 4.4 nights in Ontario – 42% longer than the typical tourist at 3.1 nights”. Cultural tourists spend 78% more money on their visits than other tourists ($667 vs. $374), with particularly high spending on lodging, food, beverages, retail goods, entertainment, and recreation.

In terms of the provenance of Ontario’s cultural tourists, two-thirds come from Canada (including Ontario residents visiting other parts of the province), while 23% come from the U.S.A. and 11% from overseas. Almost one-quarter of all visitors (22%) participated in arts and culture activities while travelling. Arts and culture activities are most commonly undertaken by overseas tourists (63% of which participated in a cultural activity while visiting), followed by American (39%) and Canadian visitors (18%).

Heritage activities rank very high among the priorities of cultural tourists: historic sites are the most common type of cultural activity undertaken and the most common motivation for travelling. Other popular activities include visiting museums or art galleries, attending performances, and attending festivals or fairs. Many visitors participate in multiple cultural activities while in the province.


Arts and Culture in Urban or Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda
Journal of Planning Education and Research, 29 (3), 379-391, January 2010
Authors: Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa
Visit link for full report: http://jpe.sagepub.com/content/29/3/379.full.pdf+html?ijkey=G50IWuhbSeFSA&keytype=ref&si%2520teid=spjpe&utm_source=eNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1J22

The authors of this article argue that, despite increasing attention to creative cities and cultural planning, “knowledge about what works at various urban and regional scales is sorely lacking”. The authors highlight the relative lack of research “evaluating the efficacy of specific cultural strategies” designed to improve local cultural development.

In particular, they indicate that better information about designated cultural districts and cultural tourism would be useful. Important questions regarding cultural district designations include:

  • Is a clustered group of cultural venues better or worse than a “decentralized mosaic of cultural activities” in different neighbourhoods?
  • Does a concentrated cultural district attract more tourists than dispersed cultural venues and activities?
  • Are designated cultural districts attached to (or detached from) “the fabric of neighborhoods and residences”?

The authors suggest that “adequate research for policy making and planning would evaluate before and after outcomes across a large number of cases and cities and incorporate other non-cultural interventions in the model”.

For cultural tourism, the authors question whether “local and regional residents may be more important cultural policy targets than visitors”.  They also wonder whether improving the quality of life for local residents (and potential residents) might be a more significant goal than attempting to attract more tourists. In this regard, the authors argue that “comparative studies of outcomes across a large set of cities … would help cultural planners make good decisions”.

The researchers also mention the need for research and evaluation of a range of other local cultural planning issues:

  • Incentives for the cultural industries.
  • Support for artists and cultural workers.
  • Operating and project support for arts and cultural organizations.
  • Capital support for and public operation of arts and cultural facilities
  • Planning regulations that affect the cultural sector, including zoning and historic preservation.

The authors conclude with a four-point research plan. “First, researchers should unpack, critique, and evaluate cultural planning outcomes according to implicit and explicit norms and goals.” Second, the link between cultural initiatives and economic development needs to be further explored and vetted by researchers. Third, there is a need to know “which local institutional and funding structures are most effective and at what geographic scales”. Finally, researchers should explore “the merits and weaknesses of specific alternative cultural strategies”.


Set in Stone: Building America’s New Generation of Arts Facilities, 1994-2008
Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, June 2012
Visit link for full report: http://culturalpolicy.uchicago.edu/setinstone/finalreport/

This report examines all cultural building projects in the United States between 1994 and 2008 based on a number of research methods, including an examination of building permits for new construction, renovations, and additions to museums, theatres, and multi-use performing arts centres with an initial cost of at least $4 million, an in-depth investigation of 50 such projects, a sampling of other local cultural organizations that might also have been affected by the building projects, and case studies.

Overall, the researchers identified 725 cultural building projects started between 1994 and 2008, with a total cost of nearly $16 billion. One-half of the cultural building projects were multi-use performing arts centres, 39% were museums, and 11% were theatre-only projects.

During the timeframe of the study, “building in the arts grew faster than or on par with building in other sectors” such as health and education. The researchers identified a cultural “building boom” in the U.S. between 1998 and 2001. Cities with highly-educated, relatively affluent, and rising populations (as well as cities with higher numbers of artists) tended to have more cultural facilities than other cities. Given the growth in cultural facilities, the researchers question whether the supply of cultural facilities has exceeded demand.

The researchers pinpoint some key factors that influence the feasibility and success of cultural building projects, including:

  • A project motivation that includes both the organization’s mission and the need for a new or renovated space.
  • “Clear, consistent, and sustained” leadership.
  • “Efficient project timelines”.
  • Flexible and realistic revenue projections and effective control of expenses. (The researchers note that 80% of the building projects ran over budget.)

The case studies for the project highlight the need to find equilibrium between a range of managerial challenges that arise when undertaking building projects:

  • “The way that a new facility fits into and enhances the ability to deliver on mission.
  • The organization’s actual capacity (additional staff, technical support, marketing expertise) to operate effectively in an enhanced and expanded space.
  • Engaging the surrounding community in ways that enhance the longer term health of the organization and its infrastructure.
  • Identifying and strengthening funding streams for the near and longer term.”

The research found no clear pattern of positive or negative impacts of the cultural building projects on the broader community and “limited evidence that cultural building has significant effects on the overall [local] changes in the number of arts organizations, their employment, or payrolls”.


Canadian Index of Wellbeing
University of Waterloo, October 2012
Visit link for full report: https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) aims to deliver “a measure that provides a broader depth of understanding that, when partnered with [Gross Domestic Product], gives citizens and decision-makers a more comprehensive package of information they need to assess our progress as a society and make decisions based on evidence for a fair and sustainable future”.

The CIW defines wellbeing as “the presence of the highest possible quality of life in its full breadth of expression focused on but not necessarily exclusive to: good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture”.

The CIW tracks sixty-four indicators related to eight domains, including “leisure and culture”. The report notes that leisure and culture contribute to life satisfaction, quality of life, as well as the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Five of the eight leisure and culture indicators relate to the arts, culture, and heritage, but two key indicators also include recreation activities (hours spent volunteering for culture and recreation organizations and the percentage of household expenditures on culture and recreation).

The index tracks these indicators back to 1994, and the index was set to 100 in that year. The overall Canadian Index of Wellbeing saw a 5.7% increase between 1994 and 2010, while the Gross Domestic Product increased by 28.9% over this timeframe. The leisure and culture portion of the index has decreased fairly consistently since 1998, resulting in an overall decline of 7.8% between 1994 and 2010. Much of this decline (i.e., 3.0% of 7.8%) occurred between 2008 and 2010. The environment domain was the only other domain to see an index decrease (by 10.8%) between 1994 and 2010.

Within the leisure and culture domain, two indicators saw a positive change (increase in physical activity and average number of nights away per vacation). The indicators with a decrease include visits to national parks and national historic sites, average attendance per performance at performing arts events, average number of hours spent volunteering for culture and recreation organizations, expenditures on culture and recreation, time spent on arts and culture activities, and time spent on social leisure activities.

The report’s conclusion regarding leisure and culture is that “Canadians may simply be too caught up in a time crunch to enjoy leisure and culture activities in the company of friends and family”.


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