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February 9, 2009

Canada's arts industry hurting

CANADA - It is hard enough for artists in Canada to make a decent living and it's not getting any better no thanks to Stephen Harper's cuts to arts funding.

Hill Strategies Research, a statistical company, says artists' income declined from 2001 to 2006, using the latest data period provided by Census Canada.

The 2001 census showed artists (from a variety of fields including dancers, photographers, etc) earned an average of $26,300, but that figure dropped to $22,700 by 2006, a 14% decrease in earnings when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, the overall Canadian labour force saw a modest 2% increase in the same period.

In 2006, working artists – 140,000 across Canada – actually outnumber the 135,000 Canadians directly employed in the automotives sector. Furthermore there are 609,000 cultural workers in Canada, approx. 3.3% of Canada's total workforce, which is double the 300,000 workers in the forestry sector and more than double the banking sector at 257,000.

So evidently the art and culture industry in Canada is huge and should not be ignored. They play an important role in Canada's tourism, entertainment and film industries.

Lastly artists, many of whom are self-employed, rarely qualify for employment insurance, and their ability to contribute to pension plans for a secure retirement is also limited. So when the North American economy goes sour like it has been under the Bush administration its the artists who feel the pinch the most.

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