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Consumer Spending on Culture in 2008

Canada, the Provinces and 12 Metropolitan Areas

November 20, 201020 November 2010

Government and consumer spending on culture

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This report shows that Canadian consumers spent over $27 billion on cultural goods and services in 2008, which represents $841 for every Canadian resident. The $27.4 billion in consumer spending is three times larger than the $9.2 billion spent on culture by all levels of government in 2007/08.

The report examines the spending of Canadians on cultural goods and services, including art supplies and musical instruments, art works and events, home entertainment, movie theatre admissions, photographic equipment and services, and reading material. Free cultural activities, by definition, are excluded from the survey on which this report is based (Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending).

Home-based activities dominate cultural spending. Home entertainment accounts for over one-half of cultural spending ($15.4 billion, or 56%), while reading material (including books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines) accounts for another $4.8 billion, or 18% of cultural spending. Significant amounts are also spent on other cultural goods and services, including art works and events ($3.1 billion, or 11%), photographic equipment and services ($1.8 billion, or 6%), movie theatre admissions ($1.2 billion, or 4%), and art supplies and musical instruments ($1.1 billion, also 4%).

Canadians’ spending on live performing arts ($1.4 billion) is more than double their spending on live sports events ($650 million). Spending on books ($1.4 billion) was slightly higher than spending on movie theatre admissions ($1.2 billion) in 2008. Consumer spending on museum and heritage admissions was $510 million in 2008. Total spending on works of art, carvings and other decorative ware was $930 million in 2008.

After adjusting for inflation, cultural spending increased by 28% between 1997 and 2008, double the 14% growth in the Canadian population. The average annual growth in cultural spending (adjusted for inflation) was 2.3% between 1997 and 2008. The 28% increase in cultural spending is lower than the 37% increase in spending on all goods and services between 1997 and 2008. In comparison, Canada’s Gross Domestic Product increased by 44% between 1997 and 2008, while personal disposable income grew by 38%.

Between 1997 and 2008, consumer spending on art works and events grew by 59%, more than any other category of cultural spending. Some individual cultural items saw a substantial increase in spending between 1997 and 2008 (all figures adjusted for inflation):

  • Televisions, DVD players, digital video recorders, and other TV or video components: 124% increase.
  • Works of art, carvings and other decorative ware: 107% increase.
  • Live performing arts: 50% increase.
  • Books (excluding school books): 24% increase.
  • Admissions to museums and heritage-related activities: 21% increase.
  • Movie theatre admissions: 21% increase.

Cultural spending per capita varies significantly between the provinces, from a high of $963 in Alberta to a low of $716 in Quebec. Albertans’ $963 in cultural spending is 15% higher than the Canadian average of $841 and well above the $905 per capita spent by Saskatchewanians, the second-highest per capita level. Ontarians have the third-highest level of cultural spending, at $880 per capita. British Columbians spend an average of $869 per person on cultural items, while Manitobans spend an average of $844 per capita. The five eastern-most provinces have levels of cultural spending that are below the Canadian average ($841).

However, when expressed as a percentage of consumer spending on all goods and services, cultural spending is highest in some smaller provinces: 3.3% in Prince Edward Island, 3.2% in Saskatchewan and 3.2% in Manitoba.

The report also compares per capita spending on the art works and events category as well as specific cultural items, including live performing arts, museum admissions, works of art, and books.

Per capita spending on art works and events is highest in Alberta ($115), British Columbia ($108), Ontario ($103) and Saskatchewan ($99), the four provinces where consumer spending is above the national average in this category ($94). Per capita spending on live performing arts is highest in Saskatchewan ($51), followed by Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia ($47 each). For per capita spending on admissions to museums and heritage-related activities, Alberta ranks first ($21), followed by Ontario ($17) and British Columbia ($16). Per capita spending on works of art, carvings and other decorative ware is highest in Alberta ($43), followed by British Columbia ($38) and Ontario ($33).

Regarding per capita spending on books, Alberta ranks first ($52), followed by British Columbia ($47) and Manitoba ($42).

Among 12 metropolitan areas, Calgary and Saskatoon have the highest per capita consumer spending on cultural goods and services. In terms of per capita spending on all cultural goods and services, Calgary ranks first ($1,020), followed by Saskatoon ($1,000), Regina ($993), and St. John’s ($977). With regard to per capita spending on art works and events, Saskatoon ranks first ($140), followed by Calgary ($130), Edmonton ($124), St. John’s ($123), and Toronto ($116).

The report also provides a profile of cultural spending in each province and in 12 municipal areas.

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