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Collecting Demographic Data: Pilot Survey 

February 27, 2020


The Canada Council for the Arts is engaged in ongoing dialogue with arts organizations toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the places of work, the programs they deliver, and the audiences they reach. It is an endeavour that requires, in the first place, awareness of our current state of being diverse, fair and inclusive.

To gain a sense of where arts organizations receiving grants stand, the Canada Council commissioned Forum Research and Hill Strategies Research to undertake a pilot study, whose first stage included developing a voluntary online survey to collect demographic data from staff and board members of the 25 organizations that agreed to participate. The organizations included in the pilot study receive core operational funding through the Council’s Engage and Sustain program.

Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui
Centre d’achats
Photo: Andrée Lanthier


The pilot stage of this project supports multiple objectives:

  • To engage the arts community in developing a tool that will support their efforts to build diversity in their workforces.
  • To provide participating organizations with data on their own workforces which they can analyze within their specific contexts (e.g. region, language, field of practice) in order to determine what they may wish to address over time.
  • To increase the Canada Council’s understanding of how to collect workforce demographic data.

Opera de Montreal
Champion, 2019
Aubrey Allicock as Young Emile Griffith (front) and Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith (back)
Photo: Yves Renaud


A sample of roughly 25 organizations, who receive funding through the Artistic Institutions component, were solicited to participate in this pilot study. The participating organizations represent the breadth of organizations funded taking into consideration field of practice, region, official language minority status, size, etc.

A diverse group of stakeholders from the arts sector were consulted during the development of the questionnaire. The bilingual pilot survey included questions on gender, age, cultural diversity, Indigenous heritage, official language minority status, disability and opinions on their place of work and the arts sector in general. 

The survey was launched on January 22 and closed on March 5, 2019. The survey was completed by board members as well as permanent, contract or seasonal personnel working either full-time or part-time for organizations in the following areas: administrative, artistic and technical. The survey was not sent to individuals that were commissioned or retained for a single performance or show, nor volunteers other than board members. There were 1,080 respondents to the survey, which represents a 37% response rate.

For key findings, please refer to the downloadable summary report on this page.