Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada


- Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada, 1996 to 2002 (data tables only, no report)

- Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada

- Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada - A Provincial Perspective

- Economic Contribution of the Culture Sector in Ontario

These four Statistics Canada products examine the culture sector's contribution to Gross Domestic Product and employment in various Canadian jurisdictions. The most recent product is a series of four tables that provide national data updated to 2002. The other three reports provide more detail and analysis of economic impact statistics between 1996 and 2001.

The products base their employment statistics on a fairly broad industry-based definition of the culture sector, one that includes all those working in cultural organizations and industries (written media, film, broadcasting, sound recording and music publishing, performing arts, visual arts, architecture, photography, design, advertising, festivals, heritage, and other information services). The data excludes those working in cultural occupations outside of cultural industries (such as artists who teach in schools). The Labour Force Survey is the main source of employment data.

The contribution of culture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is measured using the value-added method, which "calculates GDP by measuring the gross value of production of each firm and subtracting each firm's costs of production in the form of its purchases from other firms."

These figures include only the direct impacts of culture. That is, the data excludes the impacts of: 1) the re-spending of expenditures of cultural organizations (i.e., indirect impacts); 2) the re-spending of wages earned by cultural workers (i.e., induced impacts); and 3) cultural attendees' spending on hotels, restaurants and transportation associated with cultural activities (i.e., ancillary impacts). These other impacts can be substantial. For example, an American study indicated that the ancillary impacts of arts attendees was about one-and-a-half times the impact of the arts organizations' own expenditures. (See Arts and Economic Prosperity, Americans for the Arts, June 2002.)

Also excluded from the examination are other potential benefits of culture, such as the possibility that the existence of cultural organizations contributes to a region's attractiveness for people and businesses. On the other hand, the report does not attempt to subtract from the economic impact of culture the opportunity costs of spending on culture (that is, the economic impact that would result if the money spent on culture was spent in another sector).

The 2002 data tables show that the direct impact of culture on GDP was $40 billion in 2002, while the direct impact on employment amounted to 600,000 jobs (including full-time and part-time employed and self-employed positions). Both of these figures represent a substantial increase from 1996: growth in culture GDP was 37%, while culture employment grew by 15%. The 2001 report shows that, because of the growth in the overall economy, culture GDP remained constant as a percentage of the overall Canadian GDP (3.77% in 1996 and 2001).

Culture increased as a percentage of overall Canadian employment (from 3.8% in 1996 to 4.1% in 2001). There was a particularly large increase in culture employment between 1999 and 2000.

Our analysis of the 2002 data tables for this issue of the Arts Research Monitor shows that the increases in both culture employment and culture GDP were widespread among the 14 cultural areas examined in the report. Between 1996 and 2002, culture GDP grew in 11 of 14 areas, led by festivals, architecture, written media, film and advertising.

During the same period, culture employment grew in nine of 14 areas, with film, festivals and architecture having the largest percentage increases in employment. (It should be noted that the 2002 data pre-dates the onset of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Toronto in 2003, which had a substantial impact on cultural organizations, particularly the film industry.)

In 2002, culture GDP and employment were both dominated by the three largest sub-sectors:

  • written media: $17.4 billion GDP impact (44% of culture sector GDP) and 158,900 employment positions (27% of culture sector employment);
  • broadcasting: $4.7 billion (12%) and 55,200 employment positions (9%); and
  • film: $3.1 billion (8%) and 71,600 employment positions (15%).

Support activities, defined in the report as "activities related to culture that help to finance or support creation and production (copyright collectives, agents, managers, promoters)", accounted for 11% of culture GDP and 10% of culture employment in Canada in 2002. These support activities cut across the culture sub-sectors as defined by Statistics Canada.

The "provincial perspective" report shows that culture GDP increased in every province between 1996 and 2001, although Saskatchewan experienced only a very small increase. The largest increases in percentage terms were in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. As a percentage of overall provincial economies, culture is most important in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia.

Culture sector employment increased in eight of the 10 provinces between 1996 and 2001, with only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick experiencing a decrease. The largest percentage increases were in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. As a percentage of provincial employment, culture is most important in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

As a group, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia accounted for 82% of the national GDP impact and 81% of the national employment impact in 2001. Each of these three provinces experienced an increase in culture GDP in each year between 1996 and 2001.

The detailed national and Ontario reports reinforce previous findings (see, for instance, Canada's Cultural Sector Labour Force from the Cultural Human Resource Council) concerning some characteristics of culture sector workers, including full-time vs. part-time work, unemployment rates as well as public and private sector employment.

Other recent reports on economic impact in the cultural sector:

Economic Impact of the Arts in Alberta (2005)

The Culture Sector in Atlantic Canada: Its Economic Impact and Export Potential (2004)

Profile and Economic Impact of the Music Industry of New Brunswick (2004)

Economic Impact Study of the Canadian-Owned Publishing Industry (2004)

The Economic Impact of the Arts Impact of the Arts in Nelson (2003)

Economic Impact of 97 Festivals and Events in Ontario (2003)


These four Statistics Canada products examine the culture sector's contribution to Gross Domestic Product and employment in various Canadian jurisdictions.

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