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Artists in Canada’s Provinces, Territories and Metropolitan Areas Based on the 2001 Census

October 18, 200518 October 2005

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The most recent report in Hill Strategies’ Statistical Insights on the Arts series highlights the number and earnings of artists in Canada’s provinces, territories and Census Metropolitan Areas based on the 2001 census. A key finding in the report is the existence of a 26% earnings gap between artists and other labour force workers. The earnings gap exists in every province and metropolitan area of the country.

In Quebec, artists come closest to overall labour force earnings, with an earnings gap of 18%. In Ontario, the earnings gap is 24%, while in all other provinces the earnings gap is 30% or more. In absolute dollar terms, artists’ average earnings are highest in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. At the local level, artists’ average earnings are highest in the Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Vancouver CMAs (both in absolute dollar terms and relative to the local labour force). In four CMAs (Oshawa, Abbotsford, Thunder Bay and Chicoutimi-Jonquière), the earnings gap is 50% or more.

The report shows that British Columbia has a much larger proportion of its workforce employed in artistic occupations than the Canadian average (1.13% vs. 0.80%). Ontario has the second-highest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations (0.83%) and has nearly twice as many artists as any other province. Among the territories, Nunavut has a particularly high percentage of its labour force in nine arts occupations (2.39%).

Canada’s 27 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) account for two-thirds of the nation’s labour force but over three-quarters of its artists. Five metropolitan areas – Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax – have the highest proportion of their labour force employed in the arts. Nearly one-half of Canada’s artists (48%) reside in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, a percentage that is much higher than these three CMAs’ share of the country’s overall labour force (34%).

Another key finding is the strong growth in the number of artists in many areas of the country. Between 1991 and 2001, the growth in artists was much greater than overall labour force growth in every province except Saskatchewan, where the arts labour force decreased slightly. Arts labour force growth was significantly higher – double or more the overall provincial labour force growth rate – in all provinces except Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Newfoundland, the arts labour force grew significantly (11%) during a period when the overall labour force decreased (-11%).

Arts labour force growth between 1991 and 2001 was very strong in almost all of Canada’s 27 CMAs, often more than double the overall rates of growth in the local labour force.

Throughout the report, some possible factors in the location decision-making of artists are examined. Findings on this topic include:

  • There is not an overarching east/west or regional pattern of artists’ choice of location.
  • Community size is not an across-the-board factor in the concentration of artists in a community. However, Canada’s three largest CMAs do have relatively large percentages of their labour force in arts occupations.
  • There is not a strong, universal connection between artists’ average earnings and labour force numbers. The connection between artists’ earnings and labour force numbers appears to be strongest in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
  • Overall labour force growth does not appear to be strongly linked to arts labour force growth.

Since there is not a clear overall pattern of location choice, artists working in different artforms may make their location decisions based on different factors. More research could examine whether there is consistency within artforms and which factors are most important for each artform.

For those interested for local-level summaries, Hill Strategies Research prepared 14 news releases to highlight the differing circumstances across Canada (covering B.C., Vancouver, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Toronto, Hamilton-Kitchener-St. Catharines, London-Windsor, Ottawa-Kingston, Thunder Bay-Sudbury, Quebec, Montreal and Atlantic Canada). These news releases are also available from the Hill Strategies website.

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