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A Statistical Profile of Art Galleries in Ontario: Public Summary of the 2003 OAAG Data Exchange

November 27, 200627 November 2006

Museums, Galleries, Visual Arts and Heritage

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This report, prepared by Hill Strategies Research for the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, provides detailed data regarding art gallery activities, artistic programs, admissions, attendance, collections, arts education activities, workforce, capital funding and operating finances. A total of 39 art galleries from 29 Ontario municipalities reported data for 2003, and an historical comparison with 1993 data is also provided based on 21 galleries reporting in both years.

In addition to the statistical analysis in the report, information about important changes in art gallery activities is provided based on the input of gallery directors. A large majority of directors indicated that, over the past 10 years, there were increases in:

  • expenditures;
  • revenues (but more galleries reported expenditure increases than revenue increases);
  • community activities;
  • ability to keep up with technology;
  • educational activities; and
  • marketing.

A smaller majority of directors indicated that there were improvements in galleries’ facilities or increases in galleries’ publications and exhibitions over the past 10 years.

The report indicates that “the most mixed result concerns staffing, with 15 galleries reporting an increase and 13 reporting a decrease. Ten galleries experienced no change in staffing, while one gallery reported that their staffing had both increased and decreased.“

Gallery directors were also asked about their successes and challenges. The most common successes relate to community partnerships, outreach activities and revenue generation. Other successes noted by directors include exhibitions, educational programming, collection development and use, gallery profile, and physical plant / facilities.

In terms of challenges, the report indicates that “by far, the most pressing challenge for Ontario galleries is their funding.” Other common challenges relate to facilities, audiences, attendance, human resources, strategic planning and policy development, and board or volunteer development.

The statistical findings regarding gallery exhibitions and artist fees show that 37 galleries presented a total of 555 exhibitions in 2002/03 (an average of 15 per gallery). A breakdown of the 555 exhibitions shows that 434 were produced in-house. In addition, “many more exhibitions were temporary (428) than drawn from galleries’ permanent collections (138).” The public galleries reported paying exhibition fees to about one-thousand artists.

Total attendance was over 2.1 million in 2002/03. The report notes that the “National Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ontario together accounted for 1.2 million visitors, more than half of the attendance for all 37 galleries.” Between 1993 and 2003, attendance increased by 48% at the 21 galleries reporting data in both years.

“Regarding their admissions policies, 20 galleries indicated that they have free admission. Nine have a voluntary charge, while 5 have a mandatory charge. Four other galleries have a mix of admissions policies (three of which include a free option).” For the nine galleries reporting their admission fees, the average adult admission fee was just under $7 in 2003. The average admission fee was about $5 for seniors and students.

The permanent collections of 34 collecting galleries include a total of 180,000 works. Between 1993 and 2003, there was a 29% increase in the size of the permanent collections of the 21 galleries reporting data in both years.

Ninety-eight percent of the 14,800 works added to permanent collections in 2002/03 were donated to the galleries. These donated works were valued at over $130 million.

Statistics in the report show that Ontario’s public galleries are very active in regards to arts education and other arts learning activities.

Regarding staffing, the report notes that “over 3,600 volunteers worked with 30 Ontario galleries in 2002/03. This number is more than three times the total staff level at Ontario galleries (1,100).”

The report provides a rare glimpse of capital projects in Ontario’s public art galleries. Nineteen galleries reported information about 24 capital projects for which they received some form of funding in 2002/03. Total capital funding was $10.6 million in 2002/03, of which 56% was raised from non-government sources, 24% was provided by the federal government, 15% was provided by municipal governments, and 4% was provided by the Ontario government.

Thirty-four galleries provided full details about their operating finances in 2002/03. A breakdown of the $109.7 million in total revenues shows that 63% was received from government sources, 25% was earned, 11% was raised from private-sector sources, and 1% was from other sources. The data in the report indicates that smaller galleries tend to have a higher proportion of revenues from private sources, less government funding, and lower earned revenues.

There were very large revenue shifts for the 21 galleries reporting in both 1993 and 2003. As a percentage of total revenues, earned revenues increased from 11% to 25%, private sector revenues increased from 4% to 11%, and government revenues decreased significantly – from 85% in 1993 to 63% in 2003.

Examined differently, the 1993 and 2003 financial results show that overall revenues increased by 71% (not accounting for the 20% inflation during this timeframe). Private sector fundraising experienced nearly a fivefold increase, while earned revenues increased nearly fourfold. In contrast, government revenues increased by only 27%, slightly higher than the 20% inflation.

Of the 34 galleries reporting financial data in 2002/03, 16 operated with a surplus, 4 galleries exactly balanced their budgets, and 14 incurred an operating deficit.

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