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Artists in London in 2021
2,100 professional artists in the city, most of whom are women
Using custom data that Hill Strategies requested from Statistics Canada’s 2021 long-form census, this article examines the demographics, employment situations, and incomes of artists in London. The article also provides summary information about workers in arts leadership occupations and all occupations in the arts, culture, and heritage (a category that includes artists and arts leaders). Comparisons are provided with all workers in London and all artists in Ontario.
This article is made possible with the support of the City of London. Hill Strategies Research retained full editorial control of the content.
Details of the occupational categories and other notes regarding methods are provided at the end of this post.
Provincial and national context: Artists, arts leaders, and all cultural workers
The 81,800 professional artists who reside in Ontario account for 40% of the 202,900 artists in Canada. As a percentage of the overall labour force, artists represent 1.0% in both Ontario and Canada. A finer analysis shows that 1 in every 96 Ontario workers and every 102 Canadian workers is an artist. (Articles related to Ontario artists and Canadian artists are available. The Canadian post provides a list of the 10 artist occupation groups.)
56,200 Canadians, including 23,000 Ontarians, work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders. Ontario accounts for 41% of Canada’s arts leaders, slightly higher than the province’s share of all workers (38%). For more information on the occupation groups included as arts leaders, please see this Canada-wide article. Readers should note that two arts leadership occupations (conductors / composers and producers / directors / choreographers) are also included as artists. As such, the number of arts leadership workers should not be added to the number of artists in any jurisdiction.
The broadest analysis relates to the 370,000 Ontarians and 914,000 Canadians who work in arts, culture, and heritage occupations. These workers represent 4.7% of Ontario’s labour force and 4.4% of the Canadian labour force. One in every 21 Ontario workers and every 23 Canadian workers has a cultural occupation. The 52 occupation groups in this category include the 10 artist occupation groups as well as the 5 arts leadership occupation groups, other cultural occupations (e.g., graphic designers, print operators, editors, translators, architects, and professionals in fundraising, advertising, marketing, and public relations), and heritage occupations (e.g., librarians, curators, and archivists).
2,100 professional artists in London
The 2,100 artists in London represent 0.9% of the city’s overall labour force, which is very close to the provincial and national averages (both 1.0%). Quite a few Canadian cities have the same concentration of artists in the labour force (0.9%), including Saskatoon, Quebec City, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
In London, 1 in every 107 workers is a professional artist.
Diversity of artists in London
Among London’s artists:
55% are women (including some transgender and non-binary people), higher than the proportions of all London workers (48%) and all Ontario artists (53%).
29% have a child at home, lower than the percentage of all London workers (39%) but similar to that of all Ontario artists (30%).
14% are members of racialized groups, one-half the percentage of all London workers (28%) and lower than the percentage of all Ontario artists (23%).
17% are immigrants to Canada, lower than the percentages of all London workers (25%) and all Ontario artists (25%).
4% are Indigenous, higher than the percentage of all London workers (2%) and all Ontario artists (2%).
41% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is greater than the percentage of all London workers (35%) but less than that of all Ontario artists (48%).
70% are self-employed, more than five times higher than the percentage of all London workers (13%) but similar to that of all Ontario artists (69%).
27% are 55 years of age or older, higher than the proportion of all London workers (22%) but similar to that of all Ontario artists (28%).
London artists by occupation and industry
London’s artists specialize in many different areas, with musicians being the most common. From most to least common, the city’s artists include:
510 musicians (24% of all artists in London)
340 writers (16%)
300 photographers (14%)
220 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (10%)
210 artisans & craftspeople (10%)
200 painters, sculptors & other visual artists (9%)
130 dancers (6%)
110 actors, comedians & circus performers (5%)
100 other performers (10%)
There are fewer than 40 conductors, composers, and arrangers in London (which is below the threshold of reliability).
London’s artists work throughout the economy. Many are employed within the arts, entertainment, and recreation (28%) or in educational services (22%). Another 14% work in information and cultural industries. All other industries, excluding the three largest ones, employ 35% of London artists.
Professional artists had very low incomes in 2020
The financial analysis in this article focuses on median incomes, which are believed to provide a better indication of the typical situation of professional artists than the average (i.e., the “mean”), which is more strongly affected by a few individuals with very high incomes.
Three measurements of artists’ incomes are provided: median employment income, median personal income, and median household income. Employment income shows the work-related earnings of artists; personal income includes all sources of income (including pandemic supports); and household income provides a measure of the family situation of artists.
It should be kept in mind that the income statistics from the 2021 census relate to the 2020 calendar year, which included many pandemic related lockdowns and significant slowdowns in artistic activity.
The median employment income of London artists was just $9,700 in 2020, which is one-quarter of the median employment income of all London workers in the same year ($38,400). The median employment income of artists was lower in London than in the province as a whole ($11,200).
The median personal income of London’s artists (from all sources) was $27,200 in 2020, 41% below that of all London workers ($46,400). The median personal income of local artists is below the median for all of Ontario ($29,600).
The graph below shows the median personal incomes of artists and all workers in London and Ontario. The difference in median personal income between artists and other workers in London is significant but is equal to the difference in all of Ontario (both -41%).
In 2020, the median household income of London artists was $84,000, or 21% less than all London workers ($107,000) and below the median household income of all Ontario artists ($98,000).
London’s arts leaders
370 London residents work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders, with the broad grouping of producers, directors, and choreographers accounting for most of them. In London, there are:
220 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (60% of the arts leaders in the city)
60 managers in publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting & performing arts (15%)
50 library, archive, museum, and art gallery managers (14%)
Less than 40 workers in two other occupation groups: conductors, composers & arrangers; and conservators & curators. (40 is the minimum threshold for reliability.)
Summary information about the 9,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in London
There are 9,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in London, representing 3.9% of the local labour force, somewhat lower than the provincial average of 4.7%. One in every 25 workers in London has a cultural occupation.
In 2020, a typical cultural worker in London had:
Employment income of $34,400, 10% less than all London workers ($38,400)
Total personal income of $42,000, 9% less than all workers in the city ($46,400)
Household income of $99,000, 7% less than all workers ($107,000)
The analysis relates to professional workers, but with a very specific concept of professional. The census data on occupations include people who worked more hours as an artist than at any other occupation between May 1 and 8, 2021, plus people who were not in the labour force at that time but had worked more as an artist than at another occupation between January of 2020 and May of 2021. Part-time artists who spent more time at another occupation in May of 2021 would be classified in the other occupation. (The same would be true of workers in arts leadership occupations and all cultural occupations.)
The occupational perspective counts people who work across the economy, as long as they are classified into one of 10 artist occupation groups, 5 arts leadership occupation groups, or 52 cultural occupation groups. Details about the occupation groups included in each of the categories is available in a recent article, which also outlined the methods behind choosing the 52 cultural occupation groups. Another article highlighted some strengths and limitations of the census for counting artists and cultural workers.
To ensure confidentiality and data reliability, no estimates of fewer than 40 people are presented in this article.
The challenging context of the pandemic in the spring of 2021 is important to keep in mind when interpreting census data on artists, which were collected in May of 2021. Income data from the census relate to the 2020 calendar year.