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Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Artists and Independent Cultural Workers

Interim Report based on I Lost My Gig Canada Survey Data as of May 27

June 23, 202023 June 2020

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts

I Lost My Gig Canada


Kelly Hill, Hill Strategies Research Inc.

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A dashboard of results from a large Canadian survey of artists and independent cultural workers is regularly updated at, where the survey – open until February 2021 – can also be accessed.

This interim report summarizes survey results as of May 27, reflecting responses from 995 artists and cultural workers. Partial responses are excluded from the interim results, as are outliers and inconsistencies in the number and value of lost gigs. As is the case for all surveys where people self-select whether to respond, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses provide a representative sample of all independent artists and cultural workers in Canada.

Two-thirds of responding artists (67%) are women, and one-half work in the performing arts (49%). The most common occupations are actors and comedians (17%), visual artists (13%), artisans and craftspeople (11%), and musicians and singers (also 11%).

A total of 28,500 gigs are expected to be lost or are at risk (average of 36 per respondent for the 796 people responding to questions about lost gigs through the end of 2020). Many types of gigs may be lost, including performances (46% of respondents), education (44%), productions (41%), rehearsals (39%), festivals (also 39%), and creation activities (35%).

The total income estimated to be lost or at risk through the end of the year is just over $20 million (average of $25,200 per respondent). Expected losses represent 83% of respondents’ average arts-related income in 2019 ($30,500). All responding artists believe that their income will be reduced (including 83% saying “severely reduced”), and 96% are “stressed about their income” (32% “extremely stressed”, 40% “very stressed”, and 24% “somewhat stressed”).

Data in the report indicate that women expect to lose slightly more gigs than men (averages of 37 and 34, respectively) but much less money in lost gigs (averages of $22,100 and $31,600, respectively). Estimates of the value of gigs lost or at risk vary by region of Canada, from a high of $28,400 in Alberta to a low of $21,100 in the Atlantic provinces.

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