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Canada’s Cultural Sector Labour Force

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This report, prepared by Hill Strategies Research for the Cultural Human Resources Council, examines the arts, culture and heritage workforce in Canada, based on 45 occupations from the 2001 census. Like the report focusing on artists, this report uses an occupation-based definition of the cultural labour force. However, the CHRC report examines a much broader set of occupations.

The report finds that the three most striking characteristics of the cultural sector labour force are a high level of education, a high rate of self-employment, and relatively low earnings, especially for self-employed artists. The report provides statistics concerning the size of the cultural labour force, the earnings of cultural workers, the size and earnings of the cultural workforce in each province and territory as well as in Canada’s 27 Census Metropolitan Areas, detailed demographic breakdowns of the cultural labour force, and trends in the cultural labour force over the last 30 years.

The report identifies 516,000 cultural sector workers, a figure that comprises 3.1% of the total labour force in Canada. In other words, one in every 32 people in Canada has a cultural occupation. A comparison of the size of the arts labour force (131,000) and the cultural labour force (516,000) shows that artists account for one-quarter of the cultural sector labour force.

Despite high levels of education in the cultural sector, earnings are relatively low (about $30,000), a figure that is 6% lower than average earnings in the overall labour force in Canada ($31,800). Important factors in the relatively low earnings in the cultural sector labour force are the situation of self-employed, female, Aboriginal and visible minority cultural workers.

From 1971 to 2001, the cultural labour force grew by 160%, compared to growth of 81% in the overall labour force. Women have been a driving factor in the growth of the cultural sector labour force, with a quadrupling of the number of female cultural workers between 1971 and 2001.

Both of the reports prepared by Hill Strategies Research contain an examination of the industry sectors where arts and cultural workers are employed. Dancers and musicians are found to frequently work outside the arts and cultural industries: there are almost three times as many dancers in educational services than in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry group. Similarly, there are more musicians and singers working in educational services than in arts, entertainment and recreation.

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