From art house to poor house

A new study indicates that incomes for artists were in decline long before the credit crunch and bailout bonanza, and that the recession will deepen artists’ poverty.

The report, based on 2006 Census data, found that 43 per cent of Canada’s 140,000 artists— from musicians to dancers—were living on less than $10,000 a year. The cultural labour force has tripled in size since 1990, but pay for artists has decreased by 11 per cent over that time period.

“To bridge the earnings gap and bring the average earnings of artists up to the same level as the overall labour force would require an additional $1.9 billion in earnings for artists,” the report reads.

Other interesting facts: Artists are almost twice as likely to work part-time hours than the rest of the labour force, and almost 40 per cent of them have at least bachelor’s degrees.

Visual artists made the least money and were much more likely to be self-employed. Women and minorities of all disciplines made less money than men.

It did not break down the earnings by region.

The full report, released earlier this month, can be found at

Kerri Breen

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