Hard Numbers: A Study on Diversity in Canada’s Galleries

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Given the “severe lack of hard data” on diversity in Canadian art galleries, the author of this report, with assistance from anonymous collaborators, created a dataset of the diversity in select leadership positions in 80 galleries that have received core funding from the Canada Council for the Arts (as well as the separately-funded National Gallery of Canada). The counting exercise resulted in 184 directors, director/curators, and “full” curators being included in the dataset.

The resulting statistics indicate that “gallery management is whiter than Canadian [visual] artists in particular, and the Canadian public in general”. Specifically:

  • 92% of gallery managers are classified by the author as white, compared with 87% of visual artists and 77% of the overall population.
  • 4% of gallery managers are classified by the author as Indigenous, higher than the proportion of visual artists (2.5%) and similar to the proportion of the public (4.5%). Indigenous managers are fairly evenly spread through the three management positions but are most common in the smallest galleries.
  • Only 4% of gallery managers are classified by the author as “visible minorities”, compared with 10% of visual artists and 19% of all Canadians. Visible minority managers tend to be in curator positions, rather than the more senior positions of directors and director/curators. Visible minority managers are most common in the largest institutions.

Regarding gender equity, the report finds that “women dominate Canada’s art field” but their majority is weakest in its top echelons:

  • 70% of gallery managers are female, higher than the proportions of visual artists (62%) and the public (52%).
  • Women comprise a majority of gallery managers in every grouping provided in the report, but have the smallest majority (but still a majority) in the most senior position examined (director).
  • The lowest female majority is in the one-quarter of galleries that receive the largest funding amounts from the Canada Council.
Summary: 

Given the “severe lack of hard data” on diversity in Canadian art galleries, the author of this report, with assistance from anonymous collaborators, created a dataset of the diversity in select leadership positions in 80 galleries that have received core funding from the Canada Council for the Arts (as well as the separately-funded National Gallery of Canada). The resulting statistics indicate that “gallery management is whiter than Canadian [visual] artists in particular, and the Canadian public in general”. Regarding gender equity, the report finds that “women dominate Canada’s art field” but their majority is weakest in its top echelons.