Ottawa Insights: Arts and Culture

The Ottawa Insights series examines key data related to various “themes” that are important to local quality of life, including the arts and culture. The report argues that “a strong local arts, culture and recreation scene is part of what makes a city vibrant. It appeals to current and potential residents as well as investors, and stimulates broader social creativity and engagement.”

The report provides information related to four areas of the arts and culture:

  • Public participation.
  • Programs and facilities.
  • Investment in the arts.
  • The arts and recreation economy.

Regarding public participation, the report indicates that participation levels in municipally-run programs “have declined from their peaks in the mid-to-late 2000s” in both the performing arts (down by nearly 30% between 2009 and 2015) and the visual arts (down by more than 25% between 2007 and 2015). On the other hand, city subsidies for participation in cultural and recreational programs have increased substantially since 2010, which the report attributes to a program review and rebranding as well as the distribution of a multilingual poster to publicize the program.

The report provides a count of local cultural programs and facilities, which are cited as “foundations for a vibrant arts and culture sector”. “Information collated by City of Ottawa staff records a total of 485 facilities for the creation and/or dissemination of art and performance across the city”, including:

  • 104 arts education venues.
  • 102 clubs, bars, and cafés with live music.
  • 85 theatres and performance facilities.
  • 60 galleries.
  • 35 libraries.
  • 28 museums and archives.
  • 27 outdoor facilities.
  • 24 studios.
  • 20 cultural centres.

The report also highlights the “hundreds of designated heritage structures and sites” as well as the 113 local festivals.

Regarding local investment in the arts and culture, the report notes that the City of Ottawa provided $9.3 million in grants and financial contributions to arts and culture organizations and individuals in 2015. This amounts to $9.70 per capita, an increase from $9.26 in 2012 (when grants and contributions totalled $8.7 million).

Data related to the arts and culture economy show that “Ottawa has a proportionally small number of artists and median income is low, though somewhat higher than in other major Canadian cities”. Because local data related to arts and culture GDP are not available, the report highlights provincial data in this regard and cites the ability of “a strong cultural scene [to] help attract, retain and fuel a creative workforce”.

Summary: 

The Ottawa Insights series examines key data related to various “themes” that are important to local quality of life, including the arts and culture. The report provides information related to four areas of the arts and culture: Public participation; Programs and facilities; Investment in the arts; The arts and recreation economy.