Arts Research Monitor articles, category = Human resources

Canadian Cultural Labour in the Era of the Creative Economy

Acknowledging that "artists and cultural-creative workers manage complex work flows, interruptions, part-time contracts, transitions, and unpaid work" (which leads to a lack of income security), this report explores "new ideas for income security initiatives for flexible labour – a growing part of the new economy". The report argues that "the key to promoting the sector ... is a framework that contains rules for creative labour processes and offers special protection as well as employment and income security to the creative work force".

In 2009, the Senior Artists Research Project was launched to investigate the circumstances, situation, needs and interests of elder artists. There were three components to the research project, including research into relevant international models of support for elder artists, the situation of Canadian elder artists, and services that currently exist for elder artists in Canada. The research reports related to senior artists are available on the Hill Strategies site (, while further information about the organization to assist artists in their senior years is available on the SARP page on the Dancer Transition Resource Centre's website (

Recognizing that there is a lack of "specific information or research on the multiple job-holding of artists", this report explores the different types of engagement that artists have in the cultural sector as well as the relationship between artistic work and other paid work. The goal of the report is to provide artists with useful information in thinking about their career paths and managing their complex careers.

This report finds that 698,000 Canadians age 15 or older volunteered 73.5 million hours in arts and culture organizations in 2007. The 73.5 million hours volunteered in arts and culture organizations is equivalent to about 38,000 full-time, full-year jobs, valued at about $1.1 billion. About 1.3 million Canadians volunteered in arts and culture organizations, donated money to them, or did both in 2007. This represents 5.0% of all Canadians 15 years of age or older.

Based on a national survey of 218 arts organizations, this report provides data about salary levels for 21 management and administrative positions in Canadian non-profit arts organizations in 2008. Unfortunately, the report does not provide an estimate of the margin of error, given the number of survey respondents. This is a major limitation on any interpretation of the results.
Based on a two-stage survey of Canadian visual artists, this study delves more deeply than any existing reports into visual artists' sources of revenue, art practice expenses and time use. More than half of all visual artists (56%) lose money on their artistic practice. The report argues that visual artists themselves are the primary funders of artistic practices.

Statistics Canada's Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and Volunteering provides information on the economic size and scope of the non-profit sector. Overall, the non-profit sector's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $83 billion in 2004, or about 7% of Canada's total GDP. (The measure of economic activity in this report differs substantially from the methodology used in estimates of the cultural sector's economic impact.)

This study provides information about professional development practices in Ontario's cultural sector, including data about "how much training is pursued, the types of training, and who is paying for it".
The report provides a scan of 20 countries' policies related to creative workers and artists, including education and training policies, awards and contests, business support and entrepreneurial development, as well as tax and social security policies. "Despite the general assumption that the knowledge economy will produce a labour force which resembles the cultural sector in its core characteristics, most countries have not yet introduced comprehensive creative labour policies to accommodate a more flexible, mobile workforce, and one which is increasingly self-employed."
The key goal of the report is to examine cultural occupations in non-cultural sectors of the economy. The report finds that 40% of culture workers are employed in non-cultural sectors, especially four sectors: manufacturing, business services, educational services and retail trade. Between 1991 and 2001, there were two particularly significant growth sectors for creative workers: the manufacturing sector and the business services sector.