Economics and the Arts

The global economy has changed enormously… the countries that will remain prosperous are the ones that will take up the torch of being creative. – Todd Hirsch, ATB Financial, in: What’s Your Story?, a video by Culture Days

Facts at a glance

The cultural sector generated approximately $25 billion in taxes for all levels of government in 2007. This is more than three times higher than the $7.9 billion that was spent on culture by all levels of government in 2007. (1)

Culture jobs accounted for 650,000 jobs in 2010, contributing 3.7% to total employment in Canada. (2)

The GDP of Culture equaled $48 billion, contributing 3% to Canada’s GDP in 2010. (3) This is larger than the accommodation and food industry ($32 billion), and the agriculture and forestry industry ($23 billion). (4)

80% of Canadians agree theatres are important for attracting visitors to communities. (5)

Imagine Growing the Economy

The creative sector is an important part of the economy, and an adequate level of federal investment is necessary to keep it strong. Canada’s future depends on creativity and imagination which inspire innovation, affect the quality of life in our cities and communities and, in turn, our ability to generate social and economic growth.

Those communities that are richest in their artistic tradition are also those that are the most progressive in their economic performance and most resilient and secure in their economic structure. – John Kenneth Galbraith, economist

Imagine communities of all sizes attracting and retaining skilled workers

Skilled workers’ commitment to place and sense of quality of life in their community build safe, economically viable, vibrant towns and cities.

The Stratford Festival is a shining example. An annual grant of $756,000 has helped the Festival grow into an internationally renowned event with a core budget of $52 million that has a regional economic impact of $145 million. This includes 3,000 full time jobs, $96 million in wages and salaries and $56 million in tax revenue.

Industries of the emerging information-age economy value quality-of-life issues for their employees and are attracted to communities, regardless of geography, that actively support arts and culture. – Anne Russo, in: Creative Connections: Arts and Culture in British Columbia Communities


(1) Statistics Canada, Culture Statellite Account, 2014.

(2) Statistics Canada, Provincial and Territorial Culture Satellite Account, 2015.
This figure was estimated using a product perspective. It considers the jobs related to the production of culture goods and/or services across the economy regardless of the producing industry, including non-cultural industries. The number of culture jobs (642,486) is lower than the number of jobs in culture industries (707,012). The latter covers all jobs in the culture industries required to produce both culture and non-culture output. For example, the performing arts industry may require an individual to collect admissions tickets to a live performance (job from culture activity) and a bartender in the food and beverages services (a job from a non-culture activity). Both figures are slightly different from the estimates published in 2014, due to the incorporation of new data.

In comparison, Statistics Canada’s Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours reports that there were 669,000 jobs in the transportation industry and 345,000 jobs in forestry, mining, oil, and utilities together in 2010.
The figures from the PTCSA are different from those presented in Hill Strategies’ Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada, which is based on the 2011 National Household Survey (671,100 people in cultural occupations) and the Labour Force Survey.

(3) Statistics Canada, Provincial and Territorial Culture Satellite Account, 2015.
This figure ($47.7 billion, more precisely) was estimated using a product perspective. It considers the production of culture goods and/or services across the economy regardless of the producing industry, including non-cultural industries. This Culture GDP is lower than the GDP of culture industries (GDP of both culture and non-culture goods and services) which is $53.4 billion. Both figures are slightly different from the estimates published in 2014, due to the incorporation of new data.

(4) Statistics Canada, Culture Satellite Account, 2014.

(5) Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), Canadian Theatre: Creating Vibrant Communities, 2014.