Just how many artists are there in Ottawa?

Just how many artists are there in Ottawa?


It is often said that the quality of life in a community has a good relationship to the number of artists that live there. This interesting study provides insight into Ottawa’s arts community.


Ottawa – More than one-third of Canada’s artists (53,500) live in five of the largest cities according to a report released today. Based on 2006 data, the report ranks Ottawa fifth for number of artists (4,600) behind Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. Arts research firm Hill Strategies carried out the study, which identifies neighbourhoods with the largest concentration of artists and highlights their income and education against local labour force data.

In Ottawa, despite a slight decrease between 2001 and 2006, the report indicates the heaviest concentration of artists still lives centrally, with an increased number of artists beginning to settle into some suburban and rural neighbourhoods. Although Ottawa’s artists represent less than one per cent (0.9 per cent) of the local labour force, the numbers are slightly higher than the national and provincial averages (0.8 per cent).

And while more than half of Ottawa’s artists hold university degrees, the study reveals median earnings that were 54 per cent less than median earnings of the overall labour force. Ottawa artists on average earned $15,800 in 2006.

“It is critical that we create an environment here in Ottawa that keeps artists in the nation’s capital,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien. "We know that artists not only contribute to our quality of life, but also to the social and economic vitality of our city.”

“This report is invaluable as a benchmark for tracking the creative capacity of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods,” added Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “We must work to ensure that Ottawa provides competitive per-capita support for arts and festivals as well as access to affordable studio space, inexpensive housing, galleries, rehearsal and performance spaces.

Councillor Deans also noted that since 2006 there have been changes in arts funding. In 2007, the City of Ottawa’s investment in the arts and festival sector was increased over four years (2007-2010) by $2.5 million. As a result, municipal per-capita funding to arts and festivals almost doubled between 2003 and 2008, growing from $3.41 to $6.08. “We continue to support local artists through the City’s Arts Funding Program, the Partnership Program for Major Festivals and Fairs, municipal art galleries and exhibitions spaces, cultural facilities, a public art program, the Ottawa Book Awards & Prix du Livre, the Karsh Award for photography, subsidized studio spaces, and various other programs and resources.”

Mapping Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada’s Large Cities also tracks people working in the cultural sector, registering 22,500 cultural workers comprising at least 48 different occupational groups. The study was commissioned by a collaboration of the five cities. For more detailed information, read the entire report or its key Ottawa findings.

      Artists in Ottawa at a glance (based on 2006 data)

    • 4,600 artists
    • 61 per cent are female
    • Ottawa artists represent eight per cent of Ontario’s 56,900 artists (one in 12)
    • Ottawa artists represent 0.9 per cent of local labour force
      (slightly higher than provincial and national average of 0.8 per cent)
    • Ottawa has fewer artists than Calgary, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver
    • Most live centrally, specifically Rideau-Rockcliffe, Somerset, Kitchissippi, Rideau-Vanier, Capital, Alta Vista and River wards
    • Bay and Kanata North are included in the top 10 Ottawa neighbourhoods for artistic concentration
    • An increasing number are moving into suburban and rural neighbourhoods, specifically Gloucester-Southgate, Barrhaven, Gloucester-South Nepean, Rideau-Goulburn, Stittsville-Kanata West, College, Kanata South, Innes and Beacon-Hill Cyrville wards
    • The median earnings of Ottawa artists were $15,800, which was 54 per cent less than median earnings of overall labour force (Ottawa tied with Calgary on the highest earnings gap)
    • 55 per cent have a bachelor degree or higher (highest of five cities and above Ontario average)



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