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Artists in Saskatchewan in 2021
Nearly 4,000 artists in the province, with incredibly low incomes in 2020
Using custom data that Hill Strategies requested from Statistics Canada’s 2021 long-form census, this article examines the demographics, employment characteristics, and incomes of artists in Saskatchewan, as well as summary information about arts leaders and all workers in cultural occupations (a category that includes artists and arts leaders).
This article is made possible with the support of SK Arts.
Hill Strategies Research retained full editorial control of the content.
This is the first sponsored post using custom data that I requested from the 2021 census. If you are not yet a sponsor but are interested in this type of information for your jurisdiction, please let me know. Or simply subscribe at the sponsor level ($750 including taxes) here:
An article in the Statistical insights on the arts subscription series found that there are 202,900 artists in Canada who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation in May of 2021, plus people who were not in the labour force in May of 2021 but had worked more as an artist than any other occupation since the start of 2020.
Artists represent 1.0% of the Canadian labour force, which consists of 20.6 million people. Examined differently, this means that 1 in every 102 Canadian workers is an artist.
Hill Strategies has also analyzed arts leaders in Canada. This analysis is quite broad-based, with more than 56,000 Canadian workers in occupation groups that include producers, directors, choreographers, conductors, composers, curators, conservators, and arts and heritage managers. Two of the 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.
The broadest analysis has related to the 914,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations, representing 4.4% of all Canadian workers. 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).
The occupational perspective counts people who work across the economy, as long as they are classified into one of the 10 artist occupation groups, 5 arts leadership occupation groups, or 52 cultural occupation groups.
More 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.
Nearly 4,000 professional artists in Saskatchewan
According to census data, there are 3,900 professional artists in Saskatchewan, representing 1.9% of Canada's artists. Within the province, artists account for 0.6% of all 615,800 workers, a percentage that is below the national average of 1.0%. In Saskatchewan, 1 in every 158 workers is an artist.
The census relies on a very specific concept of professional workers, one that includes people who worked more hours as an artist than at any other occupation between May 1 and 8, 2021, plus those 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 cultural occupations and arts leadership occupations.)
Artists had incredibly low employment incomes in 2020 and low total incomes
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.
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 Saskatchewan artists was just $10,500 in 2020, which is roughly one-quarter of the median employment income of all Saskatchewan workers in the same year ($40,800). The median employment income of artists in the province is lower than the median of all Canadian artists ($11,700).
The median personal income of artists (from all sources) was $27,800 in 2020, 45% lower than that of all Saskatchewan workers ($50,400) and below the median of all Canadian artists ($30,200). The graph below shows the median personal incomes of artists and all workers in Saskatchewan and Canada. The data indicate that Saskatchewan artists make less than artists elsewhere, but other Saskatchewan workers have median incomes that are similar to workers in the rest of the country.
In 2020, the median household income of artists was $98,000, 14% lower than that of all Saskatchewan workers ($114,000) but slightly higher than the median of all Canadian artists ($93,000).
Demographic and employment characteristics of Saskatchewan’s artists
Women represent a higher proportion of artists in Saskatchewan than in any other province.
Among Saskatchewan’s professional artists:
65% are women (including some transgender and non-binary people). This is the highest percentage in Canada and much higher than the proportions of all Saskatchewan workers (48%) and all Canadian artists (54%).
33% have a child at home, lower than the proportion of all Saskatchewan workers (41%) but similar to that of all Canadian artists (31%).
10% are Indigenous, similar to the proportion of all Saskatchewan workers (12%) and much higher than that of all Canadian artists (4%). The proportion of Saskatchewan’s artists who are Indigenous is second highest in the country, behind only Manitoba (just under 10% in Saskatchewan and just over 10% in Manitoba).
8% are members of racialized groups, lower than the percentages of all Saskatchewan workers (15%) and all Canadian artists (19%).
9% are immigrants to Canada, much lower than the percentages of all Saskatchewan workers (15%) and all Canadian artists (21%).
4% are French speakers (i.e., official language minority), double the percentage of all Saskatchewan workers (2%) but much lower than the proportion of all Canadian artists who are official language minority speakers (11%).
38% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, much higher than that of all Saskatchewan workers (25%) but lower than the percentage of all Canadian artists (45%).
29% are 55 years of age or older, which is higher than the proportion of all Saskatchewan workers (26%) but similar to that of all Canadian artists (28%).
69% are self-employed, much higher than the proportion of all Saskatchewan workers (16%) but essentially equal to that of all Canadian artists (68%).
21% reside in rural areas, and another 13% reside in areas with populations under 30,000 (but that are not considered rural). The rural proportion is the highest outside of the Atlantic provinces.
63% reside in the Saskatoon and Regina areas (the only cities with populations over 100,000), and 4% reside in the Prince Albert and Moose Jaw areas (the only cities with populations between 30,000 and 100,000).
For the first time, the 2021 census collected information on transgender and non-binary residents. For artists, this information is only available for the three Prairie provinces as a group. On the Prairies, there are about 110 transgender and 260 non-binary artists. Combined, trans and non-binary artists represent 1.4% of all artists on the Prairies, similar to the national average of 1.2%. (More information about the strengths and limitations of these gender statistics is available here.)
34% of Saskatchewan’s artists reside in rural areas and other communities with populations under 30,000. This is the highest percentage outside of the Atlantic provinces.
Artists by occupation and industry
Musicians are the largest artist occupation group in Saskatchewan, accounting for one in every five of the province’s 3,900 artists. From largest to smallest, the 10 artist occupation groups are:
Musicians: 780 (20% of the province’s artists)
Photographers: 540 (14%)
Artisans & craftspeople: 530 (14%)
Writers (except technical writers): 480 (12%)
Painters, sculptors & other visual artists: 460 (12%)
Producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations: 410 (10%)
Dancers: 400 (10%)
Actors, comedians & circus performers: 220 (6%)
Other performers: 60 (1%)
Conductors, composers & arrangers: 50 (1%)
The largest industry sectors for Saskatchewan’s professional artists are arts, entertainment, and recreation (29%) and educational services (27%). The next-largest sector is the information and cultural industries grouping (11%). All other industries (i.e., excluding the three noted above) employ one-third of the province’s artists (33%).
The proportion of artists who work mostly in educational services (27%) is higher in Saskatchewan than in any other province.
Over 800 arts leaders
In Saskatchewan, there are 820 workers in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders, including:
Producers, directors, choreographers & related: 410 (exactly one-half of the arts leaders in the province)
Library, archive, museum & art gallery managers: 180 (22%)
Managers in publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting & performing arts: 140 (17%)
Conservators & curators: 50 (6%)
Conductors, composers & arrangers: 50 (6%)
Saskatchewan accounts for 1.9% of Canada’s artists and 1.4% of the nation’s arts leaders, compared with 3.0% of all workers in the country.
Summary information about workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Saskatchewan
The 16,300 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Saskatchewan account for 2.6% of the province’s overall labour force, well below the national average of 4.4%. One in every 38 workers in the province has a cultural occupation.
Saskatchewan’s 16,300 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations represent 1.8% of all such workers in Canada, lower than the province’s share of the national labour force (3.0%).
In 2020, a typical cultural worker in Saskatchewan had:
Employment income of $33,600, 18% less than all Saskatchewan workers ($40,800)
Total personal income of $44,000, 13% less than all workers in the province ($50,400)
Household income of $107,000, 6% less than all workers ($114,000)