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Artists in Large Canadian Cities / Small and Rural Municipalities / Neighbourhoods

August 21, 200621 August 2006

Impacts of the Arts / Facilities / State of the artist

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Artists in Large Canadian Cities

Artists in Small and Rural Municipalities

Artists by Neighbourhood in Canada

These three reports from Hill Strategies’ Statistical Insights on the Arts series highlight the number and earnings of artists in Canadian cities, small municipalities and neighbourhoods based on the 2001 census. The census captures information about the occupation at which a person worked the most hours between May 6 and 12, 2001.

For each of the reports, nine arts occupations are included in the analysis: (1) actors; (2) artisans and craftspersons; (3) conductors, composers and arrangers; (4) dancers; (5) musicians and singers; (6) other performers (such as circus performers and puppeteers); (7) painters, sculptors and other visual artists; (8) producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations; and (9) writers.

There has been much interest recently in how the arts may contribute to cities’ quality of life as well as their social and economic vitality. A recent Canadian Council of Chief Executives report (reviewed in Volume 5, No. 1) identified the important role of the arts and culture in “transforming communities into destinations of choice for skilled people in any occupation”.

Regarding the economy, the arts are seen to be an important factor in attracting talented people, jobs and investment to communities. On a personal level, the arts can stimulate, inspire and entertain.

A strong artistic community can therefore enhance the whole community’s well-being. In this case, the statistics presented in these reports may be seen not just as signs of artistic activity in Canada but also as important factors in the well-being of Canadians and in potential economic growth.

Artists in Small and Rural Municipalities shows that Cape Dorset, Nunavut is the most artistic municipality in Canada, with almost one in four labour force workers in the arts.

The artistic concentration in Cape Dorset (23%) is almost triple the concentration of artists in “Canada‘s most creative neighbourhood” – the H2W postal area on Montreal‘s Plateau (8.0%) – about 10 times the artistic concentration in Vancouver (2.4%) and almost 30 times the national average of 0.8%.

British Columbia, the province with the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations (1.1%), contains seven of the 10 most artistic small and rural municipalities in Canada. Of the nine large cities with artistic concentrations above 1.0%, five are in British Columbia.

The most artistic small and rural municipalities have much higher artistic concentrations than larger Canadian cities (population over 50,000). In fact, Vancouver (the large municipality with the highest artistic concentration) ranks only 28th among the smaller municipalities.

A key finding of the report – that there are significant concentrations of artists in small and rural municipalities across the country – demonstrates that the arts contribute to the quality of life and the social and economic vitality of many small and rural communities in Canada.

Statistics in the Artists in Large Canadian Cities report show that, among large Canadian cities:

  • Vancouver has the highest percentage of labour force in the arts (2.4%);
  • Toronto has the highest average earnings of artists ($34,100);
  • Montreal has the highest average earnings of artists as a percentage of average local labour force earnings (an earnings gap of only 7%, compared with a national average of 26%); and
  • Barrie had the largest percentage increase in the number of artists between 1991 and 2001 (more than triple).

In many cities, artists have average earnings below $20,000, despite the fact that, in Canada, the percentage of artists with a university degree, certificate or diploma (41%) is double the rate in the overall labour force (22%).

Using mapping technology, Artists by Neighbourhood in Canada examines artists as a percentage of the labour force in various postal regions – “neighbourhoods” – based on 2001 census data. Nationwide, the “most creative neighbourhood” is H2W in Montreal‘s plateau area, which has an artistic concentration of 8.0%, 10 times the national average of 0.8%.

The most creative rural area is Nunavut‘s X0A region. This area, encompassing Baffin Island (Iqaluit, Cape Dorset, etc.), has an artistic concentration of 3.4%.

Nine of the 10 urban neighbourhoods in Canada with the highest concentration of artists are in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto.

However, the full report demonstrates that there are many significant artistic clusters in urban and rural areas across Canada.

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