There are more workers in the arts, culture, and heritage than in hospitals, wholesale trade, farms, and real estate
Over 900,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Canada in 2021
This post contains an analysis of the number of workers in the arts, culture, and heritage in Canada, including the largest cultural occupation groups and comparisons with other sectors of the economy.
There are 914,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations, representing 4.4% of all Canadian workers.
Note that this post does not include demographic or financial information. I will analyze that information once I receive custom data from the census. Today’s post is based on downloaded information, not my custom data request.
June is “free month”. Thanks to my paid subscribers, all four posts this month will be free. If you’d like to join them — and support vital research into the arts, you can do so here.
52 occupation groups in the arts, culture, and heritage
My statistics on workers in cultural occupations include people who work in 52 occupation groups, including:
Heritage occupations such as librarians, curators, and archivists
Cultural occupations such as graphic designers, print operators, editors, translators, architects, and professionals in advertising, marketing, and public relations
The occupational perspective counts people who work across the economy, as long as they are classified into one of the 52 cultural occupation groups.
The data include both employees and the self-employed.
The counts represent people who spent more time in their cultural work than in any other occupation in May of 2021, plus others who were not in the labour force in May of 2021 but had worked more in culture than elsewhere since the start of 2020.
A list of the 52 occupation groups is available in my post from May 18, which also outlined the methods behind choosing these 52 occupation groups. In a post on April 18, I highlighted some strengths and limitations of the census for counting artists and cultural workers.
I often use the term “cultural occupations” to describe the 52 occupation groups in the arts, culture, and heritage.
Over 900,000 workers in cultural occupations – 4.4% of all Canadian workers
There are 914,000 workers in cultural occupations in Canada.
Workers in cultural occupations represent 4.4% of all Canadian workers (20.6 million people).
Examined differently, this means that 1 in every 23 workers has a cultural occupation.
Largest occupations in the arts, culture, and heritage
The 15 largest cultural occupations (each with at least 20,000 workers) account for two-thirds of all workers in culture (600,900 of the 914,000). These 15 very large occupations are shown in descending order in the following graph.
The largest occupation group is more strongly cultural than its name (“professionals in advertising, marketing, and public relations”). This occupation group includes many culture specific occupations, such as artist agents as well as museum and gallery educators. The occupation group also includes quite a few occupations that are fairly common in cultural organizations but are not unique to culture, such as development professionals, communications consultants, event marketers, and digital marketers. The group also includes advertising professionals and public relations officers.
Artists are a significant component of the cultural workforce. There are 202,900 people in 10 artist occupation groups (combined), representing 20% of all cultural workers.
Other calculations of cultural occupations / cultural workers
Other calculations and other definitions are possible. Sticking with census data, another measurement option would be to include only those people who worked in a cultural occupation in May of 2021, thereby excluding those who were not in the labour force at that time but had worked more in culture than elsewhere since the start of 2020. Using this measurement option, the number of workers in the 52 cultural occupation groups is 834,900, which is about 80,000 lower than the full estimate of 914,000. The smaller estimate of the cultural labour force is comparable to readily available census statistics on workers by industry (see comparisons below).
My census-based estimates of workers in occupations deemed cultural are larger than those furnished through the National Culture and Sport Indicators, because of the different methods used. The national indicators count workers who produce specific products deemed cultural or who work in specific industries deemed cultural.
Through the product perspective, the National Culture and Sport Indicators counted 620,100 workers who helped to create and market culture goods and services in the second quarter of 2021. The national indicators also offer a second estimate, based on people who work in industries deemed cultural. Their industry-based estimate is typically larger than those from their product perspective, but still smaller than my occupation estimates from the census. For example, in 2019, the jobs count was 721,800 using the industry perspective but only 671,600 using the product perspective. (The industry-based estimate for 2020 was low due to pandemic shutdowns, and the estimate for 2021 is not yet available.)
There are many different estimates of the number of cultural workers. In my view, none is “right” or “wrong”. Some are better for certain purposes and worse for others.
The occupation basis in my analysis of census data provides a broad but valid view of work in culture. I tend to focus on occupation-based statistics primarily because that is the only way of capturing statistics on artists, which has long been my main focus. My statistics on workers in cultural occupations are an extension of the artist occupation statistics.
There are more workers in culture than in hospitals, wholesale trade, farms, and real estate (but not combined!)
The 834,900 workers in cultural occupations in May of 2021, using the definition comparable to census-based industry estimates (described above), is over two-and-a-half times larger than the labour force in real estate (304,100) and exactly two-and-a-half times larger than the labour force on farms (339,200). The number of workers in cultural occupations is also larger than the labour force in wholesale trade (610,300) and in hospitals (781,200).
On the other hand, the number of workers in cultural occupations is lower than the labour force in transportation and warehousing (981,000), accommodation and food services (1.1 million), and retail trade (2.1 million).
Details are shown in the graph below.
Please don’t compare back to my previously published data
Because of shifting occupational descriptions and measurement choices, my analysis from the 2021 census is not comparable to published reports in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series from prior census years. I will eventually work out appropriate comparisons with other census years.
Source of downloaded data
I sifted through the following table of 500+ occupation groups to collect information about the 52 cultural occupation groups:
Statistics Canada. Table 98-10-0449-01. Occupation unit group by labour force status, highest level of education, age and gender, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=9810044901.
Reminder of the context in May of 2021
As I’ve noted in my posts on artists and arts leaders in Canada, the pandemic context at the time of the census (May of 2021) is important to keep in mind when interpreting census data on artists and other workers in culture.
As of May 8, 2021, 39% of Canadians had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and just 3% had received two doses, according to the Government of Canada. At that time, the country was recovering from the third wave of COVID-19, which at its peak saw the largest number of cases as of that date (see this graph). The federal government had just approved the first vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years of age.
The Canada Recovery Benefit was still in place in May of 2021, providing income support to some of those who needed it.
In terms of arts attendance, between the start of the pandemic and May of 2021:
Just 6% of Canadian culture goers had attended an in-person arts or cultural performance
10% of Canadian culture goers had attended an in-person arts or cultural performance
14% of Canadian culture goers had visited an art gallery or museum.
The statistics are drawn from the July 2021 issue of the Arts Response Tracking Study.
Between the second quarter of 2016 (when the 2016 census was conducted) and the second quarter of 2021 (the period of the 2021 census), Statistics Canada’s national culture and sport indicators indicate that the direct impact of the culture on Gross Domestic Product had not changed at all, after factoring in inflation. Similarly, total output in the arts (similar to total revenues) had increased by just 0.4%, after adjusting for inflation.