Government Expenditures on Culture, 2009-10

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Statistics Canada recently released a brief overview and data tables regarding government spending on culture in 2009-10. The data include direct government support for culture through operating expenditures, capital expenditures and grants. Excluded are indirect support instruments, such as tax credits. Hill Strategies has analyzed this data for this issue of the Arts Research Monitor. It should be noted that Statistics Canada has recently cancelled this survey for budgetary reasons. Therefore, data will not be available for subsequent years.

In 2009-10, the three levels of government spent $9.6 billion on culture, excluding transfers between different levels. This represents a 20% increase from 2003-04 (after adjusting for inflation).

Provincial and municipal expenditures on culture increased substantially between 2003-04 and 2009-10 (28% and 32%, respectively, after adjusting for inflation). Federal cultural spending increased by 8% during the same timeframe. These figures (and all subsequent figures in this article) include transfers between levels of government.

In 2009-10, federal government spending on culture was $4.2 billion (41% of spending by all levels of government), while the provinces and territories spent $3.0 billion (30%) and municipalities $2.9 billion (29%). (The federal, provincial and municipal breakdowns include $0.5 billion in transfers between governments and therefore do not equal the $9.6 billion total, which is net of transfers.)

Based on the dataset categories, an estimate of government spending on the arts might include arts education, performing arts, and visual arts and crafts (excluding art galleries, which are included as museums in the heritage category). Based on this definition, government support for the arts was $827 million in 2009-10, or 8% of total government spending on culture. Support for the arts was highest at the provincial and territorial level ($416 million, or 14% of provincial and territorial governments' spending on culture), followed by the federal level ($300 million, or 7% of federal government spending on culture). This level of detail is not available for spending on the arts at the municipal level. While large municipal spending areas like libraries are broken out in the dataset, most other municipal funding is grouped into the "Multidisciplinary and other activities" category. (Other categories that might include some "arts" spending by all three levels of government would be grouped under the broad heading of "cultural industries", including film and video, literary arts/publishing, broadcasting, and sound recording.)

The $4.2 billion in federal government spending on culture in 2009-10 was dominated by the broadcasting sector ($1.9 billion, or 47% of federal spending) and heritage organizations, including museums, art galleries, public archives, nature parks and historic sites ($1.2 billion, or 29% of federal spending). The largest portions of the $3.0 billion in provincial spending in 2009-10 went to libraries ($1.1 billion, or 37% of provincial spending) and heritage organizations ($769 million, or 25%). Sixty-four percent of total municipal support in 2009 ($1.9 billion of the $2.9 billion total) went to libraries.

On a per-capita basis, spending on culture by all levels of government was $301 per Canadian in 2009-10. From highest to lowest, per-capita spending by all levels of government was as follows in each province:

  • Quebec ($389 per capita);
  • Prince Edward Island ($351);
  • Saskatchewan ($315);
  • Newfoundland and Labrador ($308);
  • Nova Scotia ($296);
  • Alberta ($272);
  • Ontario ($269);
  • New Brunswick ($263);
  • Manitoba ($260); and
  • British Columbia ($206).

Federal spending on culture averaged $123 per Canadian in 2009-10. As shown below, three provinces were above this average, while the other seven were below $123 per person in federal spending on culture:

  • Prince Edward Island ($191 per capita);
  • Quebec ($188);
  • Nova Scotia ($136);
  • Newfoundland and Labrador ($121);
  • New Brunswick ($119);
  • Ontario ($109);
  • Manitoba ($89);
  • Alberta ($71);
  • Saskatchewan ($62); and
  • British Columbia ($53).

Provincial spending on culture averaged $90 per Canadian in 2009-10. Only Ontario and British Columbia were below this level. Per-capita provincial spending on culture was as follows in each province:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador ($156 per capita);
  • Saskatchewan ($149);
  • Prince Edward Island ($129);
  • Quebec ($125);
  • Manitoba ($117);
  • New Brunswick ($107);
  • Alberta ($102);
  • Nova Scotia (also $102);
  • Ontario ($63); and
  • British Columbia ($54).

Municipal spending on culture varied widely between the provinces and averaged $87 per Canadian in 2009. Per-capita municipal spending on culture was as follows in each province:

  • Saskatchewan ($103 per capita);
  • British Columbia ($100);
  • Alberta ($99);
  • Ontario ($97);
  • Quebec ($76);
  • Nova Scotia ($58);
  • Manitoba ($53);
  • New Brunswick ($37);
  • Prince Edward Island ($32); and
  • Newfoundland and Labrador ($31).

Per-capita spending levels are higher in the three territories than in any province by every measure except municipal spending. Because of their small populations, the territories were excluded from the above analysis. Key data for the territories includes:

  • In the Yukon, total government spending on culture was $1,194 per person in 2009-10, which included $552 in federal spending, $628 in territorial spending, and $13 in municipal spending.
  • In the Northwest Territories, total government spending on culture was $1,182 per capita in 2009-10, including $888 in federal spending, $228 in territorial spending, and $66 in municipal spending.
  • In Nunavut, total government spending on culture was $787 per person in 2009-10, which included $498 in federal spending, $279 in territorial spending, and $10 in municipal spending.
Summary: 

Statistics Canada recently released a brief overview and data tables regarding government spending on culture in 2009-10. In 2009-10, the three levels of government spent $9.6 billion on culture, excluding transfers between different levels. This represents a 20% increase from 2003-04 (after adjusting for inflation). It should be noted that Statistics Canada has recently cancelled this survey for budgetary reasons. Therefore, data will not be available for subsequent years.

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50765