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Cultural HR Study 2010: Labour Market Information Report for Canada’s Cultural Sector

March 28, 201128 March 2011

Human resources

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Based on a compilation and analysis of existing statistics, this report provides detailed information about the cultural sector labour market, including seven cultural domains: “live performing arts; film, radio, TV, and broadcasting; music; heritage; books and periodicals; visual arts and crafts; and interactive digital media”. The report outlines information about cultural occupations and employers, the cultural sector’s economic situation, the financial performance of the seven cultural domains, as well as data challenges and opportunities. While most of the information is national in scope, the report does provide some provincial tables.

The report sets the context: “The labour market of the cultural sector has grown increasingly complex, changing quickly and demanding new skills. Consumer trends are evolving rapidly, affecting the demand for cultural products, and, in turn, forcing cultural establishments to quickly adjust to the new reality. The global recession also contributed to further changes within Canada’s cultural sector.”

Because the report’s analysis of cultural occupations excludes printing-sector occupations (that are usually included in cultural sector estimates but lie outside of the mandate of the CHRC), the overall number of cultural workers cited in the report (539,000) is substantially lower than other estimates (609,000 according to 2006 Census data analyzed in Hill Strategies’ A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada). The report notes that occupations within interactive digital media, which are within the CHRC’s mandate, could not be included because they are not well captured by existing labour force statistics.

Despite this caveat, the report reinforces some well-known facets of cultural work, namely the high education, low earnings and high self-employment rates of cultural workers. “Given the higher incidence of non-traditional employment in the sector, many cultural workers face tremendous uncertainty about employment, hours, earnings, and benefits.”

The report provides predictions regarding the short-term outlook for cultural occupations in each of the seven cultural domains by examining the potential effects of household spending, business consumption, exports, government support, globalization and technology. Given the effects of changing technologies on the cultural sector, the CHRC has created an “Interactive Forum for the Study of the Impact of Emerging Digital Technologies on the Cultural Sector”, available at

Overall, the report argues that, “just as the outlook for the economic and financial health of Canada’s cultural sector appears mixed, so too is the outlook for cultural occupations. A recovery in the global economy will provide a stronger potential revenue base for Canadian cultural goods and services. At the same time, ongoing changes in the way cultural goods and services are consumed, and ultimately paid for, are expected to keep exerting downward pressure on revenue growth in the sector.”

One of the key conclusions of the report is that “new technologies and globalization both represent tremendous opportunities for employment in cultural occupations. However, without adequate financial support to upgrade skills and/or leverage these opportunities, these same factors represent additional obstacles for the culture sector to overcome in order to succeed.”

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