Skip to content

Culture and the Candidates

Jim Fleck has a great piece in today’s Toronto Star about making arts and culture funding an issue for the party leaders in the current Canadian election campaign.  His arguments are extremely well thought out.

He starts with the direct impact of the cultural sector on the economy.

If anyone doubts the importance of culture to our economy, simply look to the hard numbers. In its recently released report, entitled Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy, the Conference Board of Canada estimates the economic output of the cultural sector was $46 billion in 2007, which was 3.8 per cent of Canada’s real GDP, with the value-added climbing to $84.6 billion including the indirect and induced impact.

For comparison, the value-added of Canada’s entire retail industry was just under 6 per cent in 2007, as noted by Hill Strategies.

It is estimated that 1 million jobs are created by the cultural sector, representing 7.1 per cent of Canada’s total employment in 2007. That workforce grew by 31 per cent over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada, compared to a 20 per cent growth in the total number of employed workers.

Clearly, the cultural sector is an important player in our economy, and will only become more important as the economy continues to shift. Government has an important role to play by investing adequate funding in this key economic sector, just as it does in the auto or energy sectors.

Then Fleck goes on to discuss  the importance of a healthy cultural community to Canada’s ability to compete in a world market:

If Canada is able to offer world-class cities, with internationally renowned festivals, symphonies, opera houses, theatres, music, museums and galleries, we are off to a great start. We are vying with London, New York and Chicago for the best and brightest. Knowledge-workers are seeking attractive, creative places to live, work and play.

It’s not just about finding a good job. As the Conference Board report puts it: “Clearly, a growing, dynamic culture sector is central to Canada’s success as a creative, knowledge-based economy. The culture sector also serves as a magnet for skilled and creative people, as Canada becomes increasingly dependent on international migration to sustain the size of its national labour force.”

The fact is, investing adequately in culture gives us a competitive edge.

The high quality of life, for which Canada is known, depends on a rich, vibrant and diverse arts and heritage community. More than 90 per cent of Canadians believe that arts and culture contribute to quality of life, the education of children and that they define our national identity.

A thriving arts and culture sector, supported by adequate investment by the federal government, will place Canada at the forefront of a global society that values innovation, excellence, social cohesion and economic prosperity.

Steve Paikin is the moderator for the upcoming televised leader’s debate.  He’s looking for questions.  Fleck and the Canadian Arts Coalition have a few suggestions:

What does your party plan to do to stimulate and sustain the creative economy in Canada?

How can the federal government best help to develop domestic and international markets for our artists, creators, cultural institutions and industries, as it does for other sectors?

What are your party’s plans for the future of existing arts and cultural investment programs?

Does your party have any plan to replace some of the programs recently cut? Which ones would you replace, why and how?

Go read the article and check out the Canadian Arts Coalition website.  Then start putting some pressure on the candidates.  You can email your suggestions for questions for the leadership debate to Steve Paikin at

Enhanced by Zemanta