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Impact of the Inuit arts economy

September 27, 201727 September 2017

Indigenous arts / Diversity and equity in the arts / Economic impact

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Based on a custom-designed 2016 Survey of the Inuit Arts Economy and Statistics Canada’s 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, this report outlines the economic impacts of Inuit arts in Canada. Overall, the report finds that “the Inuit arts economy contributed $87.2 million” to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and “sustained over 2,700 full time equivalent jobs” in 2016.

The report estimates the economic impacts in three discipline groupings:

  • Inuit visual arts and crafts contribute the largest share of the economic impacts: $64 million (73% of the total GDP impact) and 2,106 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs (77%).
  • Inuit performing arts have economic impacts estimated at $13 million (15%) and 419 FTE jobs (also 15%).
  • Inuit film, media, writing, and publishing account for $10 million in GDP impact (11%) and 208 FTE jobs (8%).

On a regional basis, more than one-half of the impacts on GDP and jobs were in Nunavut (much higher than levels in Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Inuvialuit, and elsewhere in Canada outside of the Arctic).

The importance of the visual arts and crafts cannot be overstated: one-quarter of Inuit people in Canada (i.e., 26% of those 15 or older) are believed to be “engaged in the production of visual arts and crafts” either for sale or for their own use. The proportion is highest in Nunavut, where one in three residents makes visual arts or crafts.

The 26% of Inuit Canadians who produce visual arts or crafts includes 8% of residents who do so for sale and 18% who do so for their own (or their family’s) use. The report estimates that, after expenses, artists who produce visual and crafts works for sale earn an average of just $12 per hour. Median annual income from art activity is estimated at $2,100 per artist. At the upper end, 11% of artists earn over $20,000 from their visual art, and another 11% earn between $10,000 and $20,000 annually.

Women visual artists (2,510) outnumber men (1,720), but women have much lower average incomes from their art ($5,200, vs. $11,600 for men).

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