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Consumer Spending on Culture in Canada, the Provinces and 15 Metropolitan Areas in 2003

January 11, 200611 January 2006

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Consumer Spending on Culture shows that Canadian consumers spent $22.8 billion on cultural goods and services in 2003, an amount that is greater than consumer spending on tobacco, alcohol and games of chance combined. The $22.8 billion in consumer spending is over three times larger than the $7.4 billion spent on culture in by all levels of government in 2002/03. The report also shows that consumer spending on live performing arts events ($980 million) is nearly double the spending on live sporting events ($530 million).

The report examines spending on cultural items, not all those who attend cultural activities. Free cultural activities, by definition, are excluded from the survey on which this report is based (Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending).

The $22.8 billion in consumer spending on culture in represents $758 for every Canadian resident and about $1 out of every $30 spent by Canadian consumers. Home-based activities, including home entertainment ($11.8 billion) and reading material ($4.6 billion), dominate cultural spending. However, significant amounts are also spent on other cultural goods and services, including photographic equipment and services ($2.1 billion), art works and events ($2.1 billion), movie theatre admissions ($1.3 billion), and art supplies and musical instruments ($1.0 billion).

Spending on cultural goods and services grew by 36% between 1997 and 2003, much higher than the 14% rise in the Consumer Price Index during the same period. After adjusting for inflation, cultural spending increased by 19% between 1997 and 2003, over three times the 6% growth in the Canadian population. The 36% increase in cultural spending is slightly higher than the 33% increase in consumer spending on all goods and services between 1997 and 2003.

The report finds that per capita consumer spending on culture varies significantly between the provinces, from a high of $838 in Alberta to a low of $607 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Cultural spending levels in Alberta, Ontario and BC are above the Canadian average, while all other provinces have levels of cultural spending that are below the Canadian average.

Of the 15 metropolitan areas examined, the report finds that consumers’ cultural spending varies from a high of $957 per person in Ottawa to a low of $654 in Saint John. The report provides a profile of cultural spending in each province and in 15 municipal areas.

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