Understanding the Arts Ecology of Saskatchewan from the Artist’s Perspective

An Overview of Results from the Artist Survey of 2014

With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Saskatchewan Partnership for Arts Research (SPAR) undertook a survey of Saskatchewan artists, receiving 348 responses. As with all surveys where the respondents were not chosen at random, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses could provide a representative sample of all artists in Saskatchewan.

An important finding of the survey is the degree to which respondents engage in artistic activities in multiple disciplines. In fact, the survey found that just 26% of respondents selected only one artistic discipline. The average number of disciplines selected by each respondent was 2.8.

On average, respondents were found to work 48.5 hours per week, much higher than the average for all Saskatchewan workers (40.8 hours). Artists’ work weeks included “24.5 hours devoted to their creative practice, 8 hours of teaching or mentorship in a creative discipline, and 16 hours working outside their creative practice”.

Responding artists were much more highly educated than other provincial residents, with 72% of artists having at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 15% of adult Saskatchewanians. Respondents were also found to be older than the general public: 47% of artists were 55 or older, compared with 35% of other residents.

The survey investigated components of artists’ earnings, finding that the average income from creative work was about $15,000. More specifically, 43% of respondents “reported an average annual income from their art practice over the past two years of less than $5,000. Only 10% earned more than $40,000/year from their art practice”. Almost 29% of respondents had received a public grant for their creative work in the two years before the survey. Overall income, including earnings from non-creative endeavours, was almost $45,000 in 2013.

A section of the survey examined collaborations and networking in the arts sector in Saskatchewan. The results indicated that “respondents found collaboration, networking, and/or informal connections important to both their evolution as an artist and their ability to create or interpret work”.

The report concludes that “the SPAR survey data reveal signs of an arts sector that is functioning as a sustainable ecology in many respects. Artist respondents are highly educated and engaged in considerable cross-disciplinary activity, a broad network of organizations and educational institutions, and collaborative activity or networking at the local level and within their disciplines.” On the other hand, there are areas that might be “indicators of a less than healthy and sustainable ecology. The provincial artist population is older than the provincial population as a whole, and although they are far more educated than the average Saskatchewan worker, they are working much longer hours (many not in their creative practice) for less than the provincial average income, not to mention the average income of their educational equals.”

The SPAR project researchers also conducted a survey of the general public in Saskatchewan. The small number of responses (131), combined with the fact that respondents were not chosen at random, limits the usefulness of that research stream.

Summary: 

With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Saskatchewan Partnership for Arts Research (SPAR) undertook a survey of Saskatchewan artists, receiving 348 responses. An important finding of the survey is the degree to which respondents engage in artistic activities in multiple disciplines. In fact, the survey found that just 26% of respondents selected only one artistic discipline. The average number of disciplines selected by each respondent was 2.8.