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Waging Culture

A Report on the Socio-Economic Status of Canadian Visual Artists

December 10, 201410 December 2014

Situation of artists

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This series of brief web articles aims to depict “the socio-economic conditions faced by Canadian resident professional visual artists” in 2012, with specific articles on ethnicity, sex, and gallery representation. The articles are based on a survey of Canadian visual artists, 391 of whom responded for a response rate of 28%.  The survey has an approximate margin of error of plus or minus 7%, 19 times out of 20. It should be noted that the survey received “higher than expected responses from artists 25 to 34 based in Toronto and lower than expected francophone artists within Quebec”. Comparisons are made with a similar survey covering 2007 data.

The survey found that nearly one-half of Canadian visual artists lost money on their artistic practice in 2012 (47%). The average personal income of visual artists was $29,300, the largest portions of which came from art-related employment (average of $19,200) and non-art-related employment (average of $5,700). After adjusting for inflation, the overall average income in 2012 was 6% higher than the 2007 level ($27,600).

On average, visual artists work 51 hours per week, with 24 hours devoted to their art practice. Another 17 hours are on art-related employment, eight hours on non-art-related employment, and four hours on art-related volunteering.

The reports provide some demographic information about visual artists who responded to the survey:

  • 62% are female.
  • Average age is 42.
  • 56% have a master’s degree and another 34% have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average of 6.4 years spent in post-secondary education.
  • Average of 14 years of experience as a visual artist.
  • 49% own their home.
  • Female visual artists have average incomes that are 18% lower than those of male visual artists.
  • Visible minority visual artists have average incomes that are 29% lower than those of “Caucasian” visual artists.


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