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Artists more numerous in Toronto, more concentrated in Vancouver: study

There may be more artists living in Toronto than any other large Canadian city, but Vancouver has the highest concentration of artists in its labour force, says a new government-funded report.

There may be more artists living in Toronto than any other large Canadian city, but Vancouver has the highest concentration of artists in its labour force, says a new government-funded report.

Research firm Hill Strategies released a study Wednesday giving a rundown of the number of artists living in major cities across Canada. The report, entitled Artists in Large Canadian Cities, is the final instalment in the firm's series of studies profiling artists across the country and based on information from Statistics Canada's 2001 census.

According to Hamilton, Ont.-based researcher Kelly Hill, 70 per cent of Canada's artists live in large cities, defined as those with populations greater than 50,000 people.

Canadians are increasingly interested in how the arts may contribute to a city's quality and affect its "social and economic vitality," Hill writes in the report.

"The arts are seen to be an important factor in attracting talented people, jobs and investment to communities," he said. "A strong, artistic community can therefore enhance a whole community's well-being."

The study reveals that British Columbia has a number of strong artistic communities, with Vancouver and Victoria ranked first and second in a list of large cities with the highest concentration of arts workers among its total labour force (2.4 per cent for Vancouver, two per cent for Victoria).

However, when considering sheer numbers, Toronto continues to dominate the scene.

Approximately 21,000 artists are employed in the Ontario capital – nearly double the number working in the study's second-ranked city, Montreal (10,100 artists), and almost triple the 7,300 artists working in third-ranked Vancouver.

Toronto is also the large city where artists earn the most on average: $34,100 a year. Rounding out the top ranked cities – salary-wise – are North Vancouver ($33,700); Ajax, Ont. ($31,800); Pickering, Ont. ($31,000); Ottawa ($29,700); and Vancouver ($29,400).

However, an artist's life continues to be a tough one. Previous Hill Strategies reports have said that the nearly 131,000 Canadians employed in the arts earn an average annual salary of $23,500 – 26 per cent lower than the average annual salary for all Canadian workers.

Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Arts Council, the study was compiled by Hill Strategies Research Inc.

The report classified artists as those who worked in nine categories: actors; artisans and craftspersons; conductors, composers and arrangers; dancers; musicians and singers; other performers (e.g. circus artists, puppeteers); painters, sculptors and other visual artists; producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations; and writers.

Statistics Canada is set to conduct another census later this year.

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