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Performing arts 2004

Catalogue no. 87F0003XIE

October 25, 200625 October 2006

Performing arts / Book publishing / Arts attendance

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Released in July 2006, Statistics Canada’s redesigned performing arts survey highlights organizations’ operating finances in 2004. As noted in Statistics Canada’s Daily, data from this release “should not be compared with data released previously on this industry since there have been significant changes to the Performing Arts Survey.” Rather than a census of all eligible organizations, the new data is collected using a sample.

The new survey data covers non-profit and for-profit performing arts organizations, including theatre, musical theatre, dinner theatre, opera, dance, musical groups (e.g., orchestras, chamber music and popular music groups) and others (e.g., circus, magic shows, ice skating shows). The report provides estimated data for 2004, 2003 and 2001 using the new methodology. In addition to aggregate data for all types of performing arts companies, separate data is provided for non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations and different disciplines. However, the discipline grouping for opera also includes dinner theatre and musical theatre.

The majority of the statistics are based on a survey of a representative sample of performing arts companies, but an analysis of administrative data was conducted in order to provide industry-wide estimates. The survey component represents about 95% of total revenues of the overall performing arts industry. Although the Daily indicates that the survey respondents are representative of the performing arts groups eligible for the survey, neither the text summary nor the summary data tables provide the number of organizations responding to the survey.

Total revenues were $1.2 billion for all performing arts groups in 2004, including about $580 million for non-profit organizations (48% of the total) and $630 million for the for-profit groups (52%). The 20 largest companies (both non-profit and for-profit) account for nearly 50% of overall revenues.

For the 473 non-profit organizations, performance revenues account for the largest share of the $580 million in total revenues (42%), followed by the public sector (29%), the private sector (21%) and other revenue (8%). The traditional definition of “earned revenues”, including performance revenue, merchandise, royalties and rentals, would account for almost 50% of the revenues of non-profit performing arts organizations. (This calculation assumes that almost all “other revenues” are earned revenues, which appears to be the case from the definition of other revenues. However, a finer analysis is not possible from the summary data tables.)

The non-profit performing arts sector registered a collective deficit of $7.4 million in 2004, while before-tax profits in the for-profit performing arts industries amounted to $56.6 million. All disciplines in the not-for-profit sector registered a deficit, including the 248 theatres (deficit of 0.9% of revenues), the 36 opera, musical theatre and dinner theatre companies (1.9%), the 83 dance companies (1.0%), the 106 music organizations (1.2%) and the 23 other performing arts companies (1.3%).

In the non-profit sector, 55% of total expenditures go toward personnel costs, including staff salaries, benefits and contractor fees. Despite the substantial labour expenditures, the 26,000 performing arts volunteers account for 43% of the overall workforce of the not-for-profit performing arts companies. (It should be noted, however, that this simple “head count” does not represent work effort or hours worked. Typically, full-time staff members work many more hours than average volunteers.)

Theatre represents the largest share of activity in the non-profit sector, accounting for about 50% of companies, attendance, revenues and expenditures and almost 70% of total performances. The for-profit performing arts sector is less dominated by a single discipline, with multidisciplinary and other establishments (including circus, ice shows, etc.) accounting for 38% of total revenues in the for-profit sector, followed by musical groups (26%), musical theatre, dinner theatre and opera (also 26%), and theatre (9%). There are no for-profit dance companies.

In 2004, the non-profit performing arts companies drew 14.2 million spectators in Canada and abroad to nearly 44,000 performances. A breakdown by non-profit discipline shows that:

  •          theatre accounted for 7.8 million in attendance and 30,000 performances;
  •          music organizations reached 3.2 million people at nearly 5,000 performances;
  •          dance organizations accounted for 1.6 million in attendance and 3,400 performances;
  •          opera, musical theatre and dinner theatre organizations reached 1.1 million people at 3,400 performances; and
  •          other performing arts companies accounted for 460,000 in attendance at 2,000 performances.
  • Between 2001 and 2004, revenues increased by 20% for non-profit performing arts organizations, while expenditures increased by 19% (not adjusted for inflation). During the same timeframe, the number of non-profit performing arts companies increased by 11% but attendance increased by only 8%. On a per-organization basis, then, attendance decreased between 2001 and 2004.

    On a provincial basis, Ontario-based organizations account for 40% of the revenues of all Canadian performing arts organizations, including 42% of non-profit revenues and 37% of revenues in the for-profit sector. Quebec-based organizations account for 38% of overall revenues, including 27% of non-profit revenues and 47% of revenues in the for-profit sector. Quebec’s for-profit sector may be larger due to the significance of for-profit circus groups based in the province. Alberta and B.C. each account for 8% of overall revenues.

    There were significant variations in revenue sources between the provinces. Compared with other provinces, performing arts companies in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia earn the highest share of total revenues from performance revenues (48%, 47% and 44% respectively). Quebec and New Brunswick organizations receive the highest share from government sources (43% and 40% respectively). Of all the provinces, Alberta-based organizations raise the highest share from private-sector sources (29%).

    The summary data tables (at also provide a breakdown of home, youth and touring performances, discipline-specific breakdowns of many variables, as well as significant additional data for most provinces.

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