Very low incomes for Indigenous artists and other workers in the arts and culture
Analysis of the incomes of artists, arts leaders, and all cultural workers, including differences by gender
Today’s post analyses the median incomes of Indigenous men and women within four broad groupings of occupations: artists, arts leaders, workers in cultural occupations, and all Canadian workers. (The cultural workers grouping includes artists and arts leadership occupations, as well as many other occupation groups.)
It follows a recent post showing that the representation of Indigenous Peoples is lower among arts leaders (2.7%) and cultural workers (3.0%) than artists (3.7%), and slightly lower among artists than all workers (4.2%). In the census, Indigenous identity is based on self-identification as First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit.
The post examines income statistics for artists as a group, for arts leaders as a group, and for cultural occupations as a group – not for individual occupation categories (e.g., craftspeople, actors, curators, arts managers, etc.). The income statistics from the 2021 census relate to 2020, a year with many pandemic lockdowns and slowdowns in artistic activity. My focus is on median personal income, which includes all sources of income, including (for example) employment income and pandemic supports.
Details of the census questions and occupational categories, as well as other notes regarding methods, are provided at the end of this post.
This high-level summary of the situation of Indigenous artists, arts leaders, and cultural workers examines Indigenous workers as a group, rather than exploring differences arising from the diversity of Indigenous Peoples residing on the territory commonly known as Canada. In addition, the post highlights gender differences, but these are not explored in significant detail.
Context: Indigenous workers have lower incomes in general, and women’s incomes are lower than men’s
Among all workers in Canada, Indigenous women have the lowest median incomes. Indigenous men have somewhat higher median incomes, which are essentially equal to the median incomes of non-Indigenous women. Non-Indigenous men have by far the highest median personal incomes. More specifically as shown in the graph below:
Non-Indigenous men have a median income of $54,800.
Non Indigenous women have a median income of $45,600, 17% lower than non-Indigenous men.
Indigenous men have a median income of $46,000, 16% lower than non-Indigenous men.
Indigenous women have a median income of $43,200, or 21% lower than non-Indigenous men.
The rest of this post analyses the median incomes of artists, arts leaders, and workers in cultural occupations, with comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and men in these positions.
I want to state that I’m not happy to place this post on the incomes of Indigenous artists and cultural workers behind a paywall. However, paid subscribers are my only source of funding for these reports, and I have to provide value added for them.