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A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada (based on the 2001 Census)

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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Focusing on nine arts occupations, A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada finds a number of significant characteristics about artists, including high levels of education, a high proportion of self-employment, a predominance of women, very low earnings, and strong growth in the number of artists between 1971 and 2001.

More specifically, the report finds that:

  • There are 131,000 artists in Canada who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May 2001.
  • Between 1971 and 2001, the number of artists in Canada more than tripled, compared with an 81% increase in the overall labour force.
  • With average earnings of $23,500, artists are in the lowest quarter of average earnings of all occupation groups. Other occupations with average earnings similar to artists include medical secretaries, customer service clerks, delivery drivers and roofers.
  • Female, Aboriginal and visible minority artists have particularly low average earnings.
  • Economic returns to higher education are much lower for artists than for other workers. Over 40% of artists hold a university degree, yet university-educated artists earn, on average, slightly over half of the average earnings of university-educated workers in the overall labour force.
  • In five arts occupations, median earnings are about $10,000. This means that a typical artisan, craftsperson, dancer, musician, singer, other performer, painter, sculptor or other visual artist earns only about $10,000.

The report provides more detail about these issues as well as a detailed demographic analysis of artists in Canada. Nine arts occupations are included in the analysis: actors; artisans and craftspersons; conductors, composers and arrangers; dancers; musicians and singers; other performers; painters, sculptors and other visual artists; producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations; and writers.

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