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Towards a Geography of Culture: Culture Occupations Across the Canadian Urban-Rural Divide

November 12, 200712 November 2007

Government spending on culture / Facilities / Human resources / Local information

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This report examines cultural employment in many rural and urban communities using 48 occupational groups from the 2001 Census. This definition, based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Framework for Cultural Statistics, includes occupations in the literary arts, visual arts and design, performing arts and film, heritage, cultural management, technical and operational activities, and manufacturing.

The detailed tables in the report’s appendixes may be of particular interest to many readers. The appendixes provide cultural employment levels in a number of communities as well as rankings of “location quotients” and “diversity indexes”.

The location quotient measures how far a community is above or below the national average for cultural employment as a percentage of the overall workforce. Appendix 1 provides a ranking of the 32 communities with an above-average concentration of culture employment. Nine of these “culture clusters” are large cities, another nine are small cities, and the remaining 14 are rural areas.

Four of the top five communities are rural areas, including B.C.’s Capital Regional District (which ranks first), Nunavut’s Baffin Region (second), B.C.’s Nanaimo Regional District (third), and Quebec’s Les Pays-d’en-Haut (fifth). Montreal is the only large metropolitan area in the top five (ranking fourth). Vancouver ranks seventh, Toronto eighth, and Ottawa-Hull ninth. These large cities are bookended by two smaller cities: Stratford (in sixth place) and Owen Sound (in tenth place).

Despite the high ranking of some rural areas and small cities, the report finds that, on average, large cities tend to have larger shares of their workforce in culture employment. Larger cities also tend to have a broader range of cultural employment. In fact, the rural areas with very high location quotients tend to have a concentration of cultural employment in a small range of occupations, often the visual arts.

Appendix 2 provides a ranking of communities by their diversity index (a measure of the range of cultural employment in a community). Montreal tops this list, followed by Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto and Vancouver. Hamilton is an interesting case: its concentration of cultural employment (the location quotient) is below the national average, but its diversity of cultural employment is third in the country.

In absolute terms, cultural employment is highest in Toronto (118,000), Montreal (87,000), Vancouver (49,000), Ottawa-Hull (27,000) and Calgary (20,000).

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