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Vital Signs

December 3, 20073 December 2007

Issue
Arts attendance / Consumer spending / Local information

Article Link
http://www.vitalsignscanada.ca

The 11 local reports in the Vital Signs series provide some interesting information about the arts in the selected communities. However, because some of the indicators do not follow standard definitions from Statistics Canada or other cultural sector reports, the reports are less useful than they might otherwise be.

The national report provides only one cultural indicator: employment in the arts and cultural industries. According to the Vital Signs definition of the arts and cultural industries, the national figure was 322,000 in 2006. This figure is much lower than the most recent Statistics Canada estimate of direct employment in the cultural sector (600,000 in 2002), provided in its data on the Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada. (For more details about the Statistics Canada data, see http://www.artsresearchmonitor.com/article_details.php?artUID=50097.)

The most interesting data in the Vital Signs detailed tables (available at http://www.vitalsignscanada.ca/rpt2007/#VII) relates to local performing arts attendance in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Sudbury, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Saint John. In four communities (Victoria, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto), the performing arts attendance rate is between 45% and 51%, well above the national average of 41% (see Cultural and Heritage Activities of Canadians in 2005 by Hill Strategies Research).

The cultural festival attendance rates are highest in Montreal, Ottawa and Victoria (between 30% and 33%), much higher than the national average of 24% (see Cultural and Heritage Activities of Canadians in 2005).

The detailed tables also provide the local attendance rates for theatre, pop music, classical music and other types of performances.

The Vital Signs tables and reports also contain information about household spending on culture. However, the Vital Signs data on this topic contains a much narrower definition of cultural spending than a recent Hill Strategies report (Consumer Spending on Culture in Canada, the Provinces and 15 Metropolitan Areas in 2005). The Vital Signs data includes movie theatres, live sports events, live performing arts, admission to museums, rental of cable and satellite services, as well as spending on art, antiques and decorative ware. In addition to these categories, the Hill Strategies report also includes reading material, art supplies, musical instruments, and photographic equipment and services. The Hill Strategies report does not include live sports events as part of cultural spending.

Despite these differences, some of the findings are similar. Household spending on culture is highest in Calgary and Ottawa. In the Vital Signs data, Vancouver and Toronto also rank highly.

By the measure of cultural employment used in the Vital Signs reports, Vancouver and Toronto have the highest proportion of the local labour force employed in the arts and cultural industries, followed by Ottawa and Montreal.

The detailed tables show that the number of library items circulated per local resident is highest in Saskatoon, Victoria and Vancouver.

Some of the 11 local Vital Signs reports contain other cultural indicators. The local reports can be accessed at http://www.vitalsignscanada.ca/local-reports-e.html.

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