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The state of data on Canada’s cultural infrastructure

Appendix A to Under Construction. Prepared by Marla Waltman Daschko

January 14, 200914 January 2009

Facilities / Cultural Infrastructure

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This report, one of eight appendices to Under Construction: The State of Cultural Infrastructure in Canada, mines a number of data sources for information about cultural facilities in Canada.

Most of the data sources are broad in scope and not specific to the cultural sector. In some cases, the categories used in the datasets are too broad to be of particular use for cultural analysts. For example, some datasets combine “theatres, arenas, amusement and recreation facilities”. The arts-related share of this category is unclear and likely varies over time. Unfortunately, in some cases, the appendix refers to these broad categories by the artistic component, leading to some misleading statements about “theatres”, when the category is much broader (“theatres, arenas, amusement and recreation facilities”).

Overall, however, this report provides substantial and useful information about cultural infrastructure in Canada. The report finds that, in 2007, the average age of heritage institutions (museums, science centres and public archives) was 19.9 years, compared with 19.3 years for performing spaces (theatres, performing arts and culture centres), 18.1 years for libraries, and 7.6 years for historic sites.

The report highlights differences in the ages of heritage institutions and performing spaces by province. On average, heritage institutions in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are the youngest, with no other consistent patterns by region. The oldest heritage institutions are in PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador. In the performing arts, western spaces (BC, AB and SK) are the youngest, while Atlantic spaces are the oldest (except in PEI, where they are close to the national average).

The average age of all types of cultural facilities, except historic sites, has increased substantially since the early 1990s, due to a lack of investment in new facilities. The lack of investment in new cultural facilities is shown by the change in the value of the capital stock, which grew substantially in the 1960s (7.8%), 1970s (6.6%) and 1980s (5.0%) but was followed by only limited growth in the 1990s (0.9%) and a reduction in value in the 2000s (-0.8%).

The total stock of all cultural facilities was $9.9 billion in 2007. Theatres are the largest component ($4.4 billion), followed by libraries ($3.0 billion), museums ($2.3 billion) and historic sites ($0.3 billion).

The value of investments in capital facilities represents only 1.8% of overall non-residential construction. In the broad category of “arts, entertainment and recreation”, the private and public sectors have contributed similar amounts toward new facilities. Again, the cultural sector’s share of this broader category is unclear.

In terms of the number of heritage institutions, the report indicates that, in 2002, there was one museum for every 12,500 Canadians, compared with one historic site for every 69,900 residents, and one archive for every 86,900 Canadians.

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