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Statistical Profile of Artists in Saskatoon in 2021
With 1,400 professional artists, Saskatoon has the largest number and highest concentration of artists in Saskatchewan
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 Saskatoon. 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 Saskatoon and all artists in Saskatchewan.
This article is made possible with the support of the City of Saskatoon.
Hill Strategies Research retained full editorial control of the content.
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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.
Provincial and national context: Artists, arts leaders, and all cultural workers
There are 3,900 professional artists who reside in Saskatchewan, 1.9% of the 202,900 artists in Canada. As a percentage of the overall labour force, artists represent 0.6% in Saskatchewan and 1.0% in Canada. In other words, 1 in every 158 Saskatchewan workers and every 102 Canadian workers is an artist. (Articles related to Saskatchewan artists and Canadian artists are available. The Canadian post provides a list of the 10 artist occupation groups.)
56,200 Canadians, including 820 Saskatchewanians, work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders. Saskatchewan accounts for 1.4% of Canada’s arts leaders, lower than the province’s share of all workers (3.0%). 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 16,300 Saskatchewanians and 914,000 Canadians who work in arts, culture, and heritage occupations. These workers represent 2.6% of Saskatchewan’s labour force and 4.4% of the Canadian labour force. One in every 38 Saskatchewan 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).
1,400 professional artists in Saskatoon
The 1,390 artists in Saskatoon represent 0.9% of the city’s overall labour force, well above the provincial average (0.6%) and close to the national average (1.0%). Saskatoon has the highest concentration of artists in Saskatchewan, slightly above that in Regina (0.8%) and well above other cities and towns.
Saskatoon has the most artists in Saskatchewan and is home to over one-third of the province’s artists (36%).
In the city, 1 in every 110 workers is a professional artist.
Demographic and employment characteristics of Saskatoon artists
Among the 1,400 artists in Saskatoon:
59% are women (including some transgender and non-binary people), much higher than the proportion of all Saskatoon workers (49%) but lower than that of all Saskatchewan artists (65%).
32% have a child at home, lower than the proportion of all Saskatoon workers (40%) but similar to that of all Saskatchewan artists (33%).
6% are Indigenous, lower than the proportions of all Saskatoon workers (10%) and all Saskatchewan artists (10%).
9% are members of racialized groups, much lower than the percentage of all Saskatoon workers (24%) but similar to that of all Saskatchewan artists (8%).
9% are immigrants to Canada, much lower than the proportion of all Saskatoon workers (23%) but equal to that of all Saskatchewan artists (9%).
4% are French speakers (i.e., official language minority), double the percentage of all Saskatoon workers (2%) and equal to the proportion of all Saskatchewan artists (4%).
47% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, much higher than the proportions of all Saskatoon workers (35%) and all Saskatchewan artists (38%).
25% are 55 years of age or older, which is higher than the proportion of all Saskatoon workers (21%) but lower than that of all Saskatchewan artists (29%).
66% are self-employed, much higher than the proportion of all Saskatoon workers (12%) but similar to that of all Saskatchewan artists (69%).
City of writers? Saskatoon artists by occupation and industry
Musicians are the largest artist occupation group in Saskatoon, representing one in every five of the city’s artists. However, relative to the total number of local artists, there is a particularly large number of professional writers in Saskatoon. The city is home to 240 writers, representing 17% of all local artists, one of the highest proportions in the country alongside Toronto (also 17%) and Ottawa (21%).
From most to least common, the 1,390 artists in Saskatoon include:
290 musicians (21% of the city’s artists)
240 writers (17%)
190 photographers (14%)
140 artisans & craftspeople (10%)
130 dancers (9%)
130 painters, sculptors & other visual artists (9%)
130 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (9%)
100 actors, comedians & circus performers (8%)
There are fewer than 40 artists (the minimum threshold for reliability) in two other occupation groups in Saskatoon: conductors, composers, and arrangers, as well as other types of performers.
Artists in the city work throughout the economy. The largest proportions work in arts, entertainment, and recreation (31%) and educational services (28%). A relatively low proportion works in the industry category that includes the for-profit cultural industries (11% in “information and cultural industries”). This percentage is lower in Saskatoon than in any of the other 20 largest cities in Canada. All other industries, excluding the three largest ones, employ the remaining 31% of Saskatoon 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.
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.
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.
The median employment income of Saskatoon artists was just $9,700 in 2020, which is about one-quarter of the median employment income of all Saskatoon workers in the same year ($41,200). The median employment income of artists in Saskatoon in 2020 was slightly below the provincial average ($10,500).
The graph below shows the median personal incomes of artists in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan as well as a comparison to all workers in Saskatoon. The median personal income of Saskatoon artists (from all sources) was $29,600 in 2020, 41% lower than that of all workers in the city ($50,000). The median personal income of local artists is slightly higher than the median for all of Saskatchewan ($27,800). The difference in median personal income between artists and other workers in Saskatoon (-41%) is significant but equal to the difference in all of Saskatchewan (also -41%).
Saskatoon artists appear to have significant support from other members of their households. In 2020, the median household income of artists was $99,000, which is 15% lower than that of all workers in Saskatoon ($116,000) but similar to the median household income of all Saskatchewan artists ($98,000).
Close to 300 arts leaders in Saskatoon
270 Saskatoon residents work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders, with the broad grouping of producers, directors, and choreographers accounting for about one-half of them. In Saskatoon, there are:
130 producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations (47% of the arts leaders in the city)
60 library, archive, museum & art gallery managers (21%)
50 managers in publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting & performing arts (19%)
Less than 40 workers in each of two other occupation groups: conductors, composers & arrangers; and conservators & curators.
Summary information about workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Saskatoon
There are 5,700 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Saskatoon, representing 3.7% of the 153,100 people in the local labour force, well above the provincial average of 2.6%. As was the case with artists, the proportion of cultural workers in Saskatoon is the highest in the province, again one decimal point ahead of Regina (3.6%). One in every 27 workers in Saskatoon has a cultural occupation.
In 2020, a typical cultural worker in Saskatoon had:
Employment income of $33,600, 18% less than all Saskatoon workers ($41,200)
Total personal income of $43,200, 14% less than all workers in the city ($50,000)
Household income of $107,000, 8% less than all local workers ($116,000)