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Canadian Association of Arts Administration Educators Graduate Survey

October 3, 20063 October 2006

Arts management / Human resources / Diversity

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This report, based on a survey of graduates of cultural management and arts administration programs in Canada, outlines the situation of young cultural managers in Canada. There is no mention in the report of whether the 285 respondents constitute a representative sample size of the target population of 883 program graduates. However, an analysis by Hill Strategies Research for this issue of the Arts Research Monitor shows that the 285 respondents would indeed constitute a representative sample (within 5 percentage points 19 times out of 20).

Although the project targeted all arts administration graduates, response rates were highest for younger, more recent graduates.

About two-thirds of respondents work full time, but many (35% of respondents) consider themselves to be underemployed. Most respondents work in small organizations.

Sales, marketing and communications positions are most common among the cultural management graduates, with 20% of respondents working in such positions.

About one-fifth of all respondents (19%) earn under $20,000 per year. About three-quarters of respondents receive extended health benefits, while about two-thirds receive other types of benefits, including dental, long-term disability, and accidental death and dismemberment.

The report finds that about two-thirds of respondents currently work in the cultural sector. It is not clear from the report whether cultural management graduates working in the cultural sector have higher or lower incomes (on average) than those working outside the cultural sector.

Of those who do work in the cultural sector, almost 90% expect to still be working in the sector in five years. According to the survey, the keys to employee retention include pay levels, advancement opportunities and employee benefits.

The skills that survey respondents cited most frequently as being learned through cultural management education, training and professional development are: sales and marketing; fundraising and development; and communications. The key skills and abilities for respondents’ career success include communications skills, adaptability and flexibility, and the ability to demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviours.

The report concludes by highlighting “three ongoing challenges” affecting arts management:

  • “Cultural management education makes a significant contribution to career advancement and, in some cases, income. Nonetheless, arts and heritage managers and administrators are looking for even more, and more specific, formal education, training and professional development opportunities.
  • Informal education continues to be as important to cultural managers as formal education. It is crucial to find ways to develop more opportunities for on-the-job training, internships, mentorship and field placements.
  • Recruitment and retention of cultural managers continues to be a serious challenge to the sector. This survey strengthens earlier calls for attention to the problems of poor compensation, long hours, little opportunity for advancement, and stress within cultural management. Alarmingly, higher percentages of younger workers and somewhat higher numbers of women than the average indicated that they are unlikely to stay in the sector in five years.”

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