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Patterns in Performing Arts Spending in Canada in 2008

February 9, 20119 February 2011

Performing arts finances, attendance and participation

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Based on a Statistics Canada survey of the spending habits of nearly 10,000 Canadian households in 2008, this report examines variations in performing arts spending between households, including differences in average spending and the percentage of households spending any money on live performing arts. The report examines “factors such as education, income, age, sex, the presence (or absence) of children in the household, household size, disability, rural and urban households, as well as province”.

The report found that total consumer spending on live performing arts was just over $1.4 billion in 2008, which is an average of $108 per Canadian household. Just over one-third of households (37%) spent some money on live performing arts in 2008.

Between 2001 and 2008, total consumer spending on live performances increased by 49% (after inflation). During the same timeframe, there was essentially no change in the percentage of Canadian households reporting spending money on live performing arts (36% in 2001 and 37% in 2008). The report indicates that “at least the same percentage of households in each income group spent at least some money on live performing arts in 2008 as in 2001”.

The report compares spending statistics on live performing arts to other attendance-related activities, including live sports events. In terms of overall spending, the $1.4 billion spent on live performing arts was more than double the amount spent on live sports events ($645 million) in 2008. While 37% of households spent money on live performing arts, 17% spent money on live sports. Among lower-income households, 15% spent money on live performances, while 4% spent money on live sports. For those lower-income households with some spending on either item, average spending on live performances was 34% higher than live sports ($166 vs. $124).

The report attempts to help performing arts organizations better target their marketing, by comparing the spending patterns of high spending households on the performing arts ($200 or more) to households that spent less than this amount or no money at all on live performances in 2008. The high spenders had particularly high spending on admissions to museums and other heritage-related activities, art, antiques and decorative ware, books, movie theatre admissions, photographic goods and services, magazines, periodicals and newspapers. Based on this information, the report suggests that performing arts organizations could customize their marketing strategies and messages to target other cultural participants, especially museum goers, art buyers and book readers.

Data in the report also shows that high spenders on the performing arts spent over four times more on live sports events than low or non-spenders on the performing arts. The report suggests that performing arts marketing could also target sports attendees.

The report also aims to help performing arts organizations pursue sponsorships, by providing information about the non-cultural spending habits of households that spend significant amounts on live performing arts. The report finds that, compared with low or non-spenders on live performing arts, households that spent at least $200 on live performances had much higher spending on non-cultural goods and services, including:

  • Financial services (over twice as much).
  • Contributions to retirement savings and pension funds (nearly twice as much).
  • Restaurants (85% higher average spending on restaurant food and more than double the average spending on restaurant alcohol).
  • Garden supplies (more than double).
  • Pet expenses (72% higher).
  • Hotels and other travel accommodations (nearly triple).
  • Inter-city transportation (more than double).
  • Bicycles (more than double).
  • Clothing (88% higher).
  • Furniture (86% higher).
  • Computer equipment and supplies (81% higher).

The report also finds that education, province of residence, municipal size and disability are factors that have an impact on performing arts spending. On the other hand, “demographic factors that do not have a substantial impact on performing arts spending include the presence of children in the household, household size, and the age or sex of the survey respondent”.

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