Artists in Large Canadian Cities
Based on the 2006 Census
IssueSituation of artists and arts administrators
This report provides an analysis of artists residing in 93 large Canadian cities, including statistics concerning the number of artists, artists’ earnings, and trends between 1991 and 2006. A brief profile of artists and a summary of key changes between 1991 and 2006 are also provided for the 93 cities with a population of 50,000 or more.
Overall, 103,500 artists reside in the 93 large cities included in the study. This represents three-quarters (74%) of the 140,000 artists in Canada.
The City of Toronto has the largest absolute number of artists (22,265), followed by Montreal (13,425) and Vancouver (8,155). The seven other cities with over 2,000 artists are Calgary (5,110), Ottawa (4,550), Edmonton (3,255), Winnipeg (2,905), Mississauga (2,285), Halifax (2,215) and Quebec City (2,100). These ten cities house almost one-half (47%) of Canada’s 140,000 artists.
In the 93 cities, artists comprise 0.90% of the combined local labour forces, higher than the Canadian average (0.77%).
The three cities with the highest concentrations of artists are in British Columbia: Vancouver (2.35%), Victoria (1.87%) and North Vancouver District Municipality (1.61%). Toronto (1.60%) and Montreal (1.53 %) follow in fourth and fifth position (respectively). Six large cities have a concentration of artists that is about 1%: Saanich (BC), Halifax (NS), St. John’s (NL), Fredericton (NB), New Westminster (BC) and Oakville (ON).
Given the relatively high cost of living in large cities, artists’ average earnings levels are quite low. In 27 of the 63 cities with reliable earnings data, artists’ average earnings are below the Statistics Canada’s low-income cutoff for a single person. In 47 of the 63 cities with reliable earnings data, artists’ average earnings are below the Statistics Canada’s low-income cutoff for a family of two.
Across Canada, the average earnings of artists are 37% less than other Canadian workers. Artists fare worse than the Canadian average in most large cities. The earnings gap is above the Canadian average (i.e., 38% or more) in 52 of the 63 cities with reliable earnings data.
The arts are a growth sector in most Canadian cities. In the 92 large cities with reliable data between 1991 and 2006, there was a 40% increase in the number of artists, compared with a 25% increase in the overall labour force. In 55 of 92 large cities, the growth rate in the number of artists exceeded the growth in the overall local labour force between 1991 and 2006. More recently, however, the growth in the number of artists exceeded growth in the overall labour force in only 41 of 92 large cities between 2001 and 2006.
Between 1991 and 2006, the number of artists increased substantially in many suburban areas. Of the ten large cities where the number of artists doubled (or more) between 1991 and 2006, many are suburbs of Toronto (Whitby, Vaughan and Richmond Hill) or Vancouver (Coquitlam and Langley). Four other cities with very large increases are also in the broader Vancouver and Toronto regions, including Chilliwack (BC), Barrie (ON), Guelph (ON) and Niagara Falls (ON). Fredericton (NB) is the tenth city where the number of artists doubled.
Only 11 large cities saw a decrease in the number of artists between 1991 and 2006. These cities tend to be in northern or less populous areas of the country. Some northern cities with a decrease in the number of artists are Saguenay (QC), North Bay (ON), Greater Sudbury (ON) and Prince George (BC). Less populous cities with a decrease are Shawinigan (QC), Cape Breton (NS), Saint-Hyacinthe (QC), Norfolk County (ON) and Strathcona County (AB).
Some artists or other labour force workers might choose a municipality in which to work based on its reputation as an “arts-friendly” city. It is possible, therefore, that those cities with a particularly high concentration or number of artists might see larger growth in the number of artists or larger labour force growth than other cities. The report shows that there does not appear to be a connection between the concentration of artists and growth in the number of artists. Nor does there appear to be a connection between the absolute number of artists and growth in the number of artists between 1991 and 2006. Finally, there does not appear to be a simple connection between either the concentration or the number of artists and overall labour force growth.