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A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada (September 2004)

Strong growth in number of artists, but earnings remain low

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September 17, 200417 September 2004

Anyone concerned with the situation of artists in Canada should be interested in the findings of this report by Hill Strategies Research. Based on 2001 census labour force counts, A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada finds a number of significant characteristics about artists, including:

  • high levels of education;
  • a high proportion of self-employment;
  • a predominance of women;
  • very low earnings; and
  • strong growth in the number of artists between 1971 and 2001.

More specifically, this study finds that:

  • There are 131,000 artists in Canada who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May 2001.
  • Between 1971 and 2001, the number of artists in Canada more than tripled, compared with an 81% increase in the overall labour force.
  • Increases in the number of artists in each decade during this period (i.e., the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s) were much larger than overall labour force growth.
  • Artists’ average earnings are well below the labour force average. In fact, artists’ earnings fell further behind the overall labour force between 1991 and 2001. In 1991, artists earned 76% of the labour force average, but this figure decreased slightly to 74% in 2001.
  • With average earnings of $23,500, artists are in the lowest quarter of average earnings of all occupation groups. That is, three-quarters of the 500-plus occupations tracked by Statistics Canada have average earnings higher than artists. Other occupations with average earnings similar to artists include medical secretaries, customer service clerks, delivery drivers and roofers.
  • Female, Aboriginal and visible minority artists have particularly low average earnings.
  • Compared to the earnings of similar groups in the overall labour force, average earnings are lowest for self-employed artists, university-educated artists, artists 45 or older, those with a non-official language as their mother tongue, and immigrant artists.
  • Of all demographic groups, francophone artists have the highest average earnings ($24,400). This figure represents 82% of the average earnings of all francophone workers in Canada, the highest percentage of overall labour force earnings of any group of artists.
  • Economic returns to higher education are much lower for artists than for other workers. Over 40% of artists hold a university degree, yet university-educated artists earn, on average, slightly over half of the average earnings of university-educated workers in the overall labour force. In fact, university-educated artists earn only slightly more than overall labour force workers with only a high school diploma.
  • In five arts occupations, median earnings are about $10,000. This means that a typical artisan, craftsperson, dancer, musician, singer, other performer, painter, sculptor or other visual artist earns only about $10,000.

The full report provides more detail about these issues as well as an in-depth demographic analysis of artists in Canada. Statistics are provided for nine arts occupations: actors; artisans and craftspersons; conductors, composers and arrangers; dancers; musicians and singers; other performers; painters, sculptors and other visual artists; producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations; and writers.

Full Report

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