This year, the Manitoba Arts Council commissioned Hill Strategies Research to conduct statistical research on the Manitoba arts community to gain a fuller understanding of our clients and our partners. Hill Strategies Research is a Canadian company that specializes in applying social science research methods to the arts. This article was written by Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies and published on September 19, 2023.
Read the full article below, or on Hill Strategies’ Substack page.
Professional artists in Manitoba in 2021
Over 5,000 professional artists, with the highest proportion of Indigenous artists among the provinces
This article is made possible with the support of the Manitoba Arts Council. Hill Strategies Research retained full editorial control of the content.
Details of the occupational categories and other notes regarding methods are provided at the end of this post.
Across Canada, there are 202,900 professional artists, representing 1.0% of the Canadian labour force. Examined differently, this means that 1 in every 102 Canadian workers is an artist. (A full article on Canadian artists is available here.)
A similar analysis examines workers in arts leadership occupations in Canada, There are more than 56,000 Canadian workers in five occupation groups, including producers, directors, choreographers, conductors, composers, curators, conservators, and arts and heritage managers. Two of the 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.
The broadest analysis relates to the 914,000 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations, representing 4.4% of all Canadian workers. 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).
Over 5,000 professional artists in Manitoba
According to census data, there are 5,200 professional artists in Manitoba, representing 2.6% of Canada’s artists. Within the province, artists account for 0.7% of all 727,100 workers, a percentage that is below the national average of 1.0%. In Manitoba, 1 in every 140 workers is an artist.
Low incomes for the province’s professional artists 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”), a statistic that 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 income statistics indicate that Manitoba’s artists operate at a significant disadvantage to other workers in the province:
- The median employment income of Manitoba artists was just $10,100 in 2020, which is about one-quarter of the median employment income of all Manitoba workers ($38,400). The median employment income of artists in the province was lower than the median of all Canadian artists in 2020 ($11,700).
- The median personal income of artists (from all sources) was $27,000 in 2020, which is 42% lower than that of all Manitoba workers ($46,400) and 11% lower than the median for all Canadian artists ($30,200). In comparison, the difference between all Manitoba workers and all Canadian workers is just 6%. The graph below highlights the differences in median personal incomes.
- On a household level, the median income of Manitoba artists was $87,000, 22% lower than that of all workers in the province ($111,000) and slightly below the median of all Canadian artists ($93,000).
Artists in Manitoba: many are women, have high education levels, and are self-employed
Well over one-half of artists in Manitoba are women (56%), much higher than the proportion of all Manitoba workers (47%) but similar to that of all Canadian artists (54%). The statistics for women include some transgender and non-binary people.
Information on transgender and non-binary artists is only available for the three Prairie provinces as a group. On the Prairies, there are about 110 transgender and 260 non-binary artists. Combined, trans and non-binary artists represent 1.4% of all artists on the Prairies, similar to the national average of 1.2%. (More information about the strengths and limitations of these gender statistics is available here.)
Other demographic and employment characteristics of Manitoba artists include the following:
- Just over 10% are Indigenous, slightly below the proportion of all Manitoba workers (13%) but well above that of all Canadian artists (4%). The Indigenous share of Manitoba artists is the highest such percentage among the provinces, slightly ahead of Saskatchewan (also rounded to 10%).
- 13% are members of racialized groups, well below the percentages of all Manitoba workers (25%) and all Canadian artists (19%).
- 11% are immigrants to Canada, about one-half of the percentages of all Manitoba workers (25%) and all Canadian artists (21%).
- 4.9% are French speakers (i.e., official language minority), similar to the percentage of all Manitoba workers (4.3%) but much lower than official language minority speakers’ proportion of all Canadian artists (11%).
- 2.7% are Jewish (by religion, ethnicity, or both), much higher than the percentage of all Manitoba workers (1.3%) but similar to that of all Canadian artists (3.5%).
- 40% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the percentage of all Manitoba workers (27%) but slightly below that of all Canadian artists (45%).
- 31% have a child at home, lower than the percentage of all Manitoba workers (41%) but equal to that of all Canadian artists (31%).
- 29% are 55 years of age or older, higher than the proportion of all Manitoba workers (24%) but similar to that of all Canadian artists (28%).
- 63% are self-employed, more than five times higher than the percentage of all Manitoba workers (12%) but somewhat lower than that of all Canadian artists (68%).
- 73% reside in the City of Winnipeg, much higher than the city’s share of the provincial labour force (59%).
- 13% reside in rural areas, compared with 23% of the overall labour force in Manitoba.
Manitoba artists by occupation and industry
Musicians represent almost one-quarter of all professional artists in Manitoba. From most to least common, the occupation groups of artists are:
- Musicians: 1,200 (23%)
- Producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations: 750 (14%)
- Artisans & craftspeople: 600 (11%)
- Writers: 560 (11%)
- Photographers: 550 (11%)
- Actors, comedians & circus performers: 490 (10%)
- Dancers: 420 (8%)
- Painters, sculptors & other visual artists: 420 (8%)
- Other performers: 150 (3%)
- Conductors, composers & arrangers: 80 (2%)
For Manitoba’s artists, the largest industry sector is arts, entertainment, and recreation, which employs 29% of artists. Within this sector, the largest number of artists work in the “independent artists, writers, and performers” group (18% of Manitoba artists), followed by those who work directly in performing arts companies (10%).
The next-largest broad sectors are educational services (where 24% of Manitoba artists are employed) and information and cultural industries (16%). Many artists work across the economy: all other industries (excluding the three largest ones) employ 31% of artists.
Manitoba’s arts leaders
1,300 Manitoba residents work in five occupation groups that are classified as arts leaders, with the broad grouping of producers, directors, and choreographers accounting for over one-half of them:
- Producers, directors, choreographers & related occupations: 750 (55% of the arts leaders in the province)
- Managers in publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting & performing arts: 280 (21%)
- Library, archive, museum & art gallery managers: 160 (12%)
- Conductors, composers & arrangers: 80 (6%)
- Conservators & curators: 80 (6%)
Manitoba accounts for 2.4% of Canada’s arts leaders, below the province’s share of all workers (3.5%).
Summary information about workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Manitoba
The 23,900 workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Manitoba account for 3.3% of the province’s overall labour force, below the national average of 4.4%. One in every 30 workers in Manitoba has a cultural occupation. Workers in arts, culture, and heritage occupations in Manitoba account for 2.6% of all such workers in Canada, lower than the province’s share of the overall labour force (3.5%).
In 2020, a typical cultural worker in Manitoba had:
- Employment income of $36,000, 6% less than all Manitoba workers ($38,400)
- Total personal income of $43,600, 6% less than all workers in the province ($46,400)
- Household income of $103,000, 7% less than all workers ($111,000)
Notes on methods
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.