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A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada in 2016 (With Summary Information about Cultural Workers)

July 31, 201931 July 2019

Situation of artists

Hill Strategies Research


Kelly Hill, Hill Strategies Research Inc.

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[Statistics updated from revised report, November 2019]

Focusing on nine arts occupations and 50 cultural occupations, this report highlights key aspects of the working lives of artists and cultural workers in Canada. Based on the 2016 long-form census, which captured occupational information based on the job in which people worked the most hours between May 1 and 7, 2016, the report indicates that the 158,100 artists in Canada represent just under 1% of the overall Canadian labour force. The report notes that there are more artists (158,100) than workers “in automotive manufacturing (146,200) and the utilities sector (136,400)”.

The most common arts occupations in Canada are: musicians and singers (35,000, or 22% of all 158,100 artists), authors and writers (27,700, or 18%), producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations (27,600, or 17%), and visual artists (21,100, or 13%). The report contains key demographic, employment, and income information for each arts occupation.

In its examination of the demographic and employment characteristics of all artists, the report finds that:

  • “Women comprise 52% of artists, higher than the proportion of all workers (48%).
  • A much larger percentage of artists than all workers have a bachelor’s degree or higher (47% vs. 28%).
  • 52% of artists are self-employed, compared with only 12% of all Canadian workers.
  • The age distribution of artists is fairly similar to all workers: nearly one-half of artists (46%) are 45 years of age or older, similar to the 44% of all workers. However, more artists than all workers are 65 years of age or older (9% vs. 4%).
  • Racialized Canadians are under-represented among artists (15%) compared with all workers (21%).
  • Indigenous and immigrant workers are slightly under-represented among artists: Indigenous People (3.1% of artists and 3.9% of all workers) and immigrants (21% of artists and 24% of all workers).”

Regarding incomes, the report highlights the fact that “the median individual income of Canada’s artists is $24,300, or 44% less than all Canadian workers ($43,500)”. The report provides details of how the median incomes of artists “vary substantially by occupation and industry”.

Regarding cultural workers, the report finds that “there are 726,600 cultural workers in Canada”, accounting “for 4% of the overall labour force. In other words, one in every 25 Canadian workers has a cultural occupation.” Compared with other industries, “the number of cultural workers (726,600) is over two-and-a-half times larger than the labour force in real estate (280,100), about double the labour force on farms (342,800), and slightly higher than the labour force in the wholesale trade industry (665,700).” The median income of cultural workers is $41,000, which is 6% lower than that for all Canadian workers.

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