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Municipal spending on culture in Quebec in 2015

(Les dépenses en culture des municipalités en 2015)

May 23, 201823 May 2018

Local and regional cultural statistics and resources

Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec


Gaëtane Dubé

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Quebec’s cultural observatory provides an annual summary of a survey of municipalities regarding their spending on the arts, culture, and heritage, including: libraries; arts and letters; heritage, public art and design; cultural festivals and events; other events with a cultural component; cultural and scientific leisure activities; conservation of historical archives; and other cultural expenditures. The vast majority of municipalities with 5,000 to 99,999 residents responded to the survey in 2015 (86%), as well as all ten cities with a population of at least 100,000.

Quebec municipalities’ operating expenditures on culture totalled $909 million in 2015, representing 4.8% of total municipal operating expenditures. Between 2011 and 2015, Quebec municipalities’ operating expenditures on culture increased by an annual average of 2.9%, compared with a 3.0% increase in municipalities’ total operating expenditures. As a result, operating expenditures on culture remained stable (4.8% in both 2011 and 2015).

A very large proportion of funding for culture in 2015 came from municipalities' own contributions (81% via property or other local taxes), while much smaller percentages came from sales and fees (8%), grants from other levels of government (7%), and other revenues (5%).

On average, operating expenditures on culture by Quebec municipalities amounted to $111 per resident in 2015. Montreal and Quebec City had the highest per capita spending on culture:

  • Montreal and Quebec City: $168.
  • The three cities with populations between 200,000 and 499,999 (Gatineau, Laval, and Longueuil): $76.
  • The five cities with populations between 100,000 and 199,999 (Lévis, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Terrebonne, and Trois-Rivières): $120.
  • The 35 municipalities with populations between 25,000 and 99,999: $110.
  • The 58 municipalities with populations between 10,000 and 24,999: $107.
  • The 77 municipalities with populations between 5,000 and 9,999: $69.
  • The 931 municipalities with populations under 5,000: $48.

Breakdowns by sub-sector and type of expenditure are available for three-quarters of all operating expenditures on culture (a portion of expenses that is referred to as “cultural services” in the report). The largest sub-sector in 2015 was libraries, accounting for 44% of total expenditures on cultural services. Arts and letters represented 19% of spending on cultural services, followed by heritage, public art and design (15%) and culture-specific festivals and events (6%).

In terms of type of expenditure, salaries and benefits comprised the largest share of Quebec municipalities’ spending on cultural services in 2015 (44% of the total), followed by cultural grants (17%), purchases of goods and services (15%), infrastructure maintenance (10%), and artist fees and honoraria (8%).

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