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More than 32,000 professional artists in Toronto
Toronto is home to one in every six Canadian artists
This article examines the demographics, employment situations, and incomes of artists in Toronto, based on custom data that Hill Strategies requested from Statistics Canada’s 2021 long-form census. Also included is 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 Toronto and all artists in Ontario.
This article was made possible through a Toronto Arts Council subscription to the Statistical insights on the arts series. 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).
32,300 professional artists in Toronto
The 32,300 artists in Toronto represent 2.0% of the city’s overall labour force, double the provincial and national averages (both 1.0%) and the second highest percentage among large Canadian cities (behind only Vancouver at 2.7%).
In Toronto, 1 in every 50 workers is a professional artist.
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Artists who reside in Toronto account for 39% of all artists in Ontario and 16% of all artists in Canada, or roughly one in every six artists in the country.
Diversity of artists in Toronto
Among Toronto’s artists:
49% are women (including some transgender and non-binary people), equal to the proportion of all Toronto workers (49%) but below that of all Ontario artists (53%).
25% have a child at home, much lower than the percentage of all Toronto workers (36%) and slightly below that of all Ontario artists (30%).
28% are members of racialized groups, higher than the percentage of all Ontario artists (23%) but about one-half the percentage of all Toronto workers (55%).
28% are immigrants to Canada, lower than the percentage of all Toronto workers (49%) but slightly higher than that of all Ontario artists (25%).
4.8% are French speakers (i.e., official language minority), higher than the percentage of all Toronto workers (3.3%) and similar to that of all Ontario artists (5.0%).
48% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the percentage of all Toronto workers (36%) and equal to that of all Ontario artists (48%).
69% are self-employed, close to five times higher than the percentage of all Toronto workers (15%) and equal to that of all Ontario artists (69%).
28% are 55 years of age or older, slightly higher than the proportion of all Toronto workers (24%) and equal to that of all Ontario artists (28%).
Toronto artists by occupation and industry
Toronto is home to a wide variety of professional artists. From most to least common, there are:
8,600 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (27% of the city’s artists)
5,600 writers (17%)
4,800 musicians (15%)
4,100 actors, comedians & circus performers (13%)
2,700 painters, sculptors & other visual artists (8%)
2,500 photographers (8%)
1,400 artisans & craftspeople (4%)
1,300 dancers (4%)
800 other performers (2%)
650 conductors, composers & arrangers (2%)
Toronto has a particularly large share of three artist occupation groups. The city accounts for:
Almost one in every four producers, directors, and choreographers in Canada
Just over one in every five actors, comedians, and circus performers in Canada
One in every five writers in Canada
Toronto’s artists work in businesses and organizations in industry sectors that are spread across the economy. The largest proportion works in arts, entertainment, and recreation (34%), followed by information and cultural industries (27%). Another 13% work in educational services. Excluding these three industries, all others account for 26% of 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”), a statistic that 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 Toronto artists was only $15,700 in 2020, which is just over one-third of the median employment income of all Toronto workers in the same year ($42,800). The median employment income of artists in Toronto in 2020 was higher than the median in the province as a whole ($11,200).
The median personal income of Toronto’s artists (from all sources) was $33,600 in 2020, 32% below that of all Toronto workers ($44,400). The median personal income of local artists is above the median for all of Ontario ($29,600).
The graph below shows the median personal incomes of artists and all workers in Toronto and Ontario. The difference in median personal income between artists and other workers in Toronto (-32%) is significant, but it is lower than the difference in all of Ontario (-41%).
In 2020, the median household income of Toronto artists was $93,000, or 21% lower than that of all workers in Toronto ($117,000) and below the median household income of all Ontario artists ($98,000).
Toronto’s arts leaders
12,000 Toronto residents work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders, with the broad grouping of producers, directors, and choreographers accounting for almost three-quarters of them. In Toronto, there are:
8,600 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (72% of the arts leaders in the city)
2,000 managers in publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting & performing arts (16%)
650 conductors, composers & arrangers (5%)
530 library, archive, museum & art gallery managers (4%)
280 conservators & curators (2%).
One in every five Canadian arts leaders resides in Toronto.
Summary information about workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Toronto
There are 129,200 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Toronto, representing 8.1% of the local labour force, well above the provincial and national averages (4.7% and 4.4%, respectively). One in every 12 workers in the city has a cultural occupation.
In 2020, a typical cultural worker in Toronto had:
Employment income of $42,800, equal to all Toronto workers ($42,800)
Total personal income of $48,800, similar to all workers in the city ($49,200)
Household income of $107,000, 9% less than all workers ($117,000)
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.