The arts and culture (overall) saw record levels of jobs and impact on GDP in the first quarter of 2023, but that was not the case in many areas of the arts
Analysis of national data from 2012 to 2023 for visual arts, performing arts, film and video, book publishing, and sound recording
Today’s post looks at jobs in the arts as well as the sector’s direct impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or net value-added to the economy). The analysis is based on Canada-wide statistics from Statistics Canada’s National Culture Indicators, which are produced on a quarterly basis, with the most recent period being the first quarter of 2023 (i.e., January through March). In contrast, the current provincial dataset relates to 2021, which I analyzed in early July.
Three key questions are addressed in this post:
What are the direct impacts on jobs and GDP of the arts, of specific areas within the arts, and overall in the arts, culture, and heritage?
Since 2012, when did the jobs and GDP statistics reach their peaks in each of these areas?
How do the most recent statistics compare with the peak levels?
I’ll analyze the jobs and GDP estimates for the following areas:
Film and video
The above five sectors combined, which provides an approximation of the arts as a whole
The overall cultural sector, encompassing the arts, culture, and heritage
The GDP statistics in this post have been adjusted for inflation and therefore represent “real” changes in GDP. The jobs counts include both full-time and part-time positions and are not expressed on a full-time-equivalent basis.
The overall cultural sector reached record levels of jobs and impact on GDP in the first quarter of 2023. However, most areas within the arts did not see peak levels in early 2023. Film and video has been an important factor in the increasing economic impact of the arts and culture. However, there are obvious dark clouds in the film sector: the first quarter statistics in this post pre-date the strikes by film and TV writers and actors in the U.S.
Arts, culture, and heritage
Let’s start with the broadest statistics, those for the overall cultural sector:
The impact on GDP of the arts, culture, and heritage amounted to $12.5 billion in the first quarter of 2023, which is the peak level since the beginning of the dataset in 2012.1
Despite the recent peak, the GDP of the cultural sector only increased by 2.3% (after adjusting for inflation) since the start of 2012. This is because the GDP of the cultural sector hovered slightly over $12 billion in many quarters between 2012 and 2016, as shown in the graph below. The peak level in Q1 of 2023 is just above those levels.
There are 717,000 full-time and part-time jobs in the cultural sector as of the first quarter of 2023. This is also the highest level since 2012, and it represents a substantial 16% increase compared with the first quarter of 2012.
The arts, culture, and heritage (also referred to as “the overall cultural sector”) includes all nine domains captured by Statistics Canada: live performance + visual & applied arts + written & published works + audiovisual & interactive media + sound recording + heritage & libraries + governance, funding & professional support + education & training + multi domain. See the bottom of this post for a description of each area.
The arts (my combination but only a partial measurement)
Note: The measurement of “the arts” here is imperfect – a measurement of convenience rather than a measurement specifically designed to capture all facets of the arts. For example, government-owned arts organizations are included in a government-specific category, not in arts subsectors. Education and training organizations also have their own category.
This partial measurement includes the areas covered in the five following sections: visual arts + performing arts + books + film & video + sound recording.