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National Compensation Study – 2009 Update – for Management and Administration in Not-for-Profit Arts Organizations

September 29, 200929 September 2009

Situation of artists and arts administrators

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Based on a national survey of 218 arts organizations, this report provides data about salary levels for 21 management and administrative positions in Canadian non-profit arts organizations in 2008. Unfortunately, the report does not provide an estimate of the margin of error, given the number of survey respondents. This is a major limitation on any interpretation of the results. One cannot be sure whether (or how) the 218 arts organizations represent all organizations in the sector. It is also difficult to assess whether changes from a similar 2003 survey (when 231 organizations responded) are “real” or are simply due to different organizations responding in the two time periods.

With this caution in mind, the report does find that, not surprisingly, “arts organizations continue to lag behind the general not-for-profit sector and comparative industries in many areas of compensation and benefits, representing an ongoing real challenge for recruitment and retention”. In fact, the data in the report could lead one to ask why people decide to work in smaller arts organizations, where the pay is low, benefits are limited, and the hours are long (but flexible). Unfortunately, the study does not examine “intrinsic motivations” or other potential factors.

Given these human resource issues, it is not surprising that the turnover rate in the arts (among those who leave voluntarily) is high: 20%, compared with an average of 12% for other non-profit organizations.

This report concludes that “excessive workload, understaffing and a general unavailability of resources” continue to pose significant challenges for the arts sector.

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