WIC Releases Culture Sector Career Sustainability Report MakingItWork

Posted: 2019-05-09 9:00:38 AM by WorkInCulture editor | with 47 comments

Read the full report Executive Summary Infographics   

WorkInCulture announced today the results of a research report entitled MakingItWork: Pathways Toward Sustainable Cultural Careers, which was commissioned to profile today’s Culture Sector labour market in Ontario, identify the challenges and opportunities the sector is facing and recommend ways to move forward. MakingItWork was prepared by Nordicity and funded by the Government of Ontario.

The report presents the findings of the Ontario Culture Sector’s demographics and needs at an individual and organizational level, aspirations for career sustainability, diversity in the workforce and other key areas. It encapsulates the Culture Sector through four subsectors: Arts, Cultural Industries, Libraries, and Museum and Heritage. The report’s findings will be presented at a panel during the 2019 Creative Works conference on Friday, May 10, 2019 at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

MakingItWork reveals a substantial need for support in the culture sector, both for organizations and individuals,” said Diane Davy, Executive Director of WorkInCulture. “To better understand our areas of growth and development, it is essential to identify and examine the elements necessary for a diverse and thriving culture sector in Ontario. This report is the first step in that process, and we look forward to working alongside our partners in the community to develop solutions and new opportunities for progress.”

“Thanks to the important research done by WorkInCulture, we now have a comprehensive overview of the culture workforce,” said Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “The report’s findings will help to identify gaps in skills development, recommend solutions to address them and ensure the culture sector grows and continues to be an important economic driver in Ontario.”

You can download the report by clicking here.

Based on an analysis of a custom data tabulation from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census, Nordicity estimates that there are 274,220 individual workers working full or part-time in Ontario’s Culture Sector. In combination with over 1000 survey responses received from artists and culture sector workers, the Ontario’s Culture Sector Profile is:

  • Younger (slightly) and more concentrated in large urban centres than the overall workforce in Ontario.
  • Populated by slightly more men than women. Women are slightly less prevalent in the culture sector workforce (44%) than in Ontario’s workforce overall (48%). A sector exception is in libraries where some 84% of the workforce are women.
  • Highly-educated. Four in five (81%) culture sector workers hold a form of post- secondary credential compared to about two in three (65%) workers in Ontario overall.
  • Relatively inclusive of newcomers to Canada, but not especially diverse: Overall, the culture workforce has 38% more newcomers than Ontario’s overall workforce, but that share is of a very small base (5.4% compared to 3.9% in Ontario overall).
  • Predominantly English-speaking: Culture sector workers are more likely to speak English at home than workers in Ontario in all sectors.
  • Earning an average $42,500 per year from arts-related activities.
  • Earning approximately 80% of their total annual income from arts-related activities.
  • Seeking sustainability: The three most critical issues facing culture sector workers, as cited by survey respondents, were 1) salary/low income; 2) lack of work/life balance; and 3) lack of employment stability. Organizations similarly ranked being able to keep pace with salary expectations and work/life balance among the top issues they face as employers.
  • Seeking business, leadership and management skills upgrades, again both on the part of individual artists and cultural workers as well as organizations.
  • Finding greater success with face-to-face training but is open to a wide variety of learning opportunities and modes.
  • 69% of the organizations surveyed reported that diversity and inclusion is one of their stated organizational values, however just one in three of those organizations (23% overall) has a clear, actionable plan to achieve explicit goals about diversity and inclusion.

MakingItWork recommendations are based on the results of the survey, as well as 10 cross-sectoral roundtables that took place in Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo and Owen Sound. In each of the 10 roundtables, the discussions were facilitated around the a) individual workers and artists; b) workplaces and organizations and c) diversity, equity and inclusion. Discussions were broad-ranging within these subject areas but many common themes and needs emerged.

Key Recommendations of MakingItWork  include:

  • Explore new HR tools, resources and management models relevant to Ontario’s culture sector by adapting skills development resources, and exploring the feasibility in shared culture-sector HR and business administration services.
  • Expand support for diversity and inclusion in the culture sector by assessing resources, investing in new programming to address diversity and inclusion, and supporting efforts towards greater transparency in the culture sector.
  • Expand support for culture sector advocacy by building WorkInCulture’s capacity to further assert the value and contribution of the culture sector and establishing new strategic training opportunities that respond to the desire for disruption articulated by the sector.
  • Explore capacity for continuous presence in regional culture sectors by building on MakingItWork research and census data and developing online tools to take advantage of resources that can be used remotely in regional communities.


Read the full report

Executive Summary



For media inquiries, please contact:

Andréa Grau
Touchwood PR

This project was supported by the Government of Ontario.


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“MakingItWork reveals a substantial need for support in the culture sector, both for organizations and individuals,” said Diane Davy, Executive Director of WorkInCulture. “

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