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Government Spending on Culture in Canada, 1992-93 to 2002-03

January 11, 200611 January 2006

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This report, commissioned by the Canadian Conference of the Arts from Hill Strategies Research, examines spending on culture by federal, provincial, and municipal governments in Canada. Total government spending on culture, including transfers, was $7.4 billion in 2002-03. Of that total, heritage and libraries received $3.7 billion (50%), the cultural industries received $2.5 billion (34%), multiculturalism and other cultural activities received $690 million (9%), and the arts received the smallest share at $550 million (7%).

The contributions of each level of government to the $7.4 billion in cultural spending in 2002-03 were as follows:

  • Federal: $3.4 billion (46% of total, or $109 per capita);
  • Provincial: $2.1 billion (28% of total, or $67 per capita); and
  • Municipal: $1.9 billion (25% of total, or $60 per capita).

Of the $550 million spent by all levels of government on the arts in 2002-03:

  • $243 million was spent by the federal government (44%, or $8 per capita);
  • $283 million was spent by provincial governments (51%, or $9 per capita); and
  • $24 million was spent by municipal governments (4%, or $1 per capita).

After adjusting for inflation, total government spending on culture decreased by 0.3% between 1992-93 and 2002-03. In comparison:

  • The number of cultural workers increased by 20% between 1991 and 2001;
  • The number of artists increased by 29% between 1991 and 2001;
  • Consumer spending on culture increased by 19% between 1997 and 2003;
  • The population of grew by 11% between 1992 and 2002; and
  • Canada’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 39% between 1992 and 2002.

Per capita government cultural spending increased in four provinces between 1992-93 and 2002-03: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Per capita government cultural spending decreased in the other six provinces: Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador.

These comparisons clearly demonstrate that government spending has failed to keep pace with substantial growth in the culture sector over the past decade. They also reveal the relatively low level of support for the arts.

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