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Mapping Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada’s Large Cities

October 24, 201024 October 2010

Creative neighbourhoods and their social and economic benefits

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This study, prepared for the City of Vancouver, the City of Calgary, the City of Toronto, the City of Ottawa and the Ville de Montréal, shows that, collectively, the 53,500 artists in these five large cities represent 38% of all artists in Canada, a proportion that is much higher than the five cities’ share of the overall Canadian labour force (21%). The five cities collectively have 209,500 cultural workers, representing 34% of all cultural workers in Canada.

The report provides an analysis of artists residing in various postal regions – “neighbourhoods” – in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver in 2006. The report notes that there is a large body of research that shows that the arts can contribute to the quality of life as well as the social and economic vitality of cities. At the neighbourhood level, strong artistic environments may contribute to changes in local economies, social environments, neighbourhood character and demographics. The report argues that a strong artistic community anchored in strong local neighbourhoods can enhance the whole community’s well-being.

The report provides lists of the ten neighbourhoods with the highest concentration of artists in each city. Nearly 22,000 artists live in the 50 neighbourhoods in the five cities’ top ten lists. This represents 41% of the artists in the five cities and 16% of all artists in Canada.

Since 41% of all artists in the five cities reside in the most artistic neighbourhoods, the report notes that cultural development in cities is partly an issue of neighbourhood development. The report recommends that city-wide arts planning strategies include the development and maintenance of neighbourhoods that are accessible and desirable for artists.

Five of the top ten neighbourhoods in Canada are in Montreal, four are in Toronto, and one is in Vancouver. The neighbourhood with the highest concentration of artists is H2T on Montreal’s Plateau, with 7.8% of the local labour force in the arts (nearly ten times the national average of 0.8%). The neighbouring H2W area has a concentration of artists 0f 7.5%.

Toronto’s M6R neighbourhood (Parkdale west to Parkside Drive) ranks third in Canada, with 6.0% of its labour force in arts occupations. There are many neighbourhoods in Vancouver with a strong concentration of artists. Among Vancouver neighbourhoods, V5L (centered on Commercial Drive) has 5.1% of the local labour force in arts occupations.

In all five cities, most of the areas with the highest concentration of artists are fairly centrally located. The report indicates that this confirms the belief that artists tend to prefer older, “authentic” urban neighbourhoods. However, there are also some areas with high concentrations of artists further from the cities’ downtown cores. The report’s analysis of cultural workers by neighbourhood confirms the belief that artists and cultural workers tend to reside in the same neighbourhoods.

Between 2001 and 2006, the concentration of artists in all five cities remained relatively stable. Of the 242 neighbourhoods with reliable data in both 2001 and 2006, 40% (97 neighbourhoods) showed an increase in the concentration of artists. Another 15% (37 neighbourhoods) showed no change in the concentration of artists, while 45% (108 neighbourhoods) saw a decrease in the concentration of artists between 2001 and 2006.

Of the 50 neighbourhoods included in the five cities’ top ten lists in 2001, 36 (or 72%) remained in the top ten in 2006. This means that just over one-quarter of the neighbourhoods (28%) fell out of the top ten lists during the five-year timeframe.

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