Art is Serious Business: Part 3 (Jobs and GDP)

Art is Serious Business: Part 3 (Jobs and GDP)

Posted 27 April 2015 by Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.
Art is Serious Business: jobs/GDP

Part 3 of a 3-part series on Art is Serious Business

On May 4, I will have the pleasure to give a public, web-streamed lecture as part of MacEwan University’s Arts and Cultural Management program. I’m always energized by meeting students looking to build a career in the arts. After all, the arts workforce is a diverse and creative sector that I believe has exciting potential in helping to shape the future of the arts and Canada itself. I saw this in my 30 years’ experience at the National Theatre School and various volunteer experiences in Montreal and elsewhere, and I continue to see it in my travels across Canada and day-to-day work for the Council.

"The stats on the arts and culture workforce tell a powerful story."

The stats on this workforce also tell a powerful story. Did you know, for instance, that there are roughly 137,000 artists in Canada who spend more time at their art than any other occupation? This means one in every 129 Canadian workers is an artist – a workforce similar in size to the auto worker or telecommunications sector. The artist labour force is made up of singers, musicians, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, actors, directors, illustrators, videographers, dancers and more. Well-educated and entrepreneurial, they may hold more than one job. They work and contribute significantly to the economy of big cities, small towns and rural communities across Canada. 

In addition, there are 671,000 Canadians working in the arts and culture sector. They work as sound and light technicians, curators, communicators, human resources professionals, administrators, box office staff, conservators, researchers, among a multitude of other pursuits.  

This being the season of the federal and provincial budgets, Canada’s economy is top of mind. So let me add some more messaging to the mix… Together our work fuels the economy by producing goods and services (eg., books, films, artworks, performances, recordings) valued at close to $50 billion.

"Arts workers: Your work has meaningful intrinsic benefits and economic benefits."

A final word to all of you working in the arts: Recognize and tell others that not only does your work have meaningful intrinsic benefits, it has tremendous economic benefits. You are producing goods that Canadians value and are purchasing in impressive numbers. We are working to ensure Canadians are aware of this… and to help you succeed in your work. Art is, indeed, serious business!

Now it's your turn. Tell us about your job in the arts. How do you describe the economic and intrinsic value of your work? How does your work contribute to the economy?


Simon Brault

About the Author: Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.

Simon Brault is the Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Author of No Culture, No Future, a collection of essays on the rise of arts and culture on public agendas, he has participated actively in initiatives such as the Agenda 21C de la culture au Québec. An initiator of Journées de la culture, he was also a founding member and chair of Culture Montréal from 2002 to 2014. In 2015, he received the Quebec CPA Order’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award for bringing together “two worlds that were once disparate – the arts and business – an alliance that significantly benefits society at large.” Follow Simon Brault on Twitter: @simon_brault

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