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Canadians Value their Arts Festivals

February 6, 2012 - In 2010, even in the midst of global economic turmoil, 10.4 million Canadians attended a cultural or artistic festival.

Data from Statistics Canada's General Social Survey released at a Performing Arts Alliance webinar indicates that,

  • in 2010, 37.2% of Canadians 15 or older attended a cultural or artistic festival (such as film, fringe, dance, jazz, folk, rock, buskers or comedy) (10.4 million Canadians).

This represents an extraordinary increase of 57.0% since 2005 (23,7% of Canadians - 6.2 million). In comparison, Canada's gross domestic product grew by 18,3% over the same period.

While many factors can account for this increase, some causality may be imparted to the federal government’s investments in festivals through the department of Canadian Heritage. Starting in 2008-2009, the federal government allocated additional resources of $7.4 million per year to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (formerly known as Arts Presentation Canada) and $18 million per year of new funding for the new Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program. By 2010, this ongoing funding was providing support to more than 1100 festivals throughout Canada.

This information provides sound evidence that government investment in the arts is having a tangible impact on the lives Canadians. The data also confirms that Canadians clearly value live performing arts, even in difficult economic times. CAPACOA president, Phyllis Stenson, highlighted this evidence in a letter to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore:

"Working together, the breadth of the presenting and touring sector has the capacity to convert public investment into increased attendance, as well as into economic growth, and ultimately better quality of life for all Canadian communities."

Phyllis Stenson, CAPACOA president and artistic director of the Harrison Festival of the Arts


More Facts

  • In fiscal year 2010-2011, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund provided funding to 267 festivals (45%), 244 performing arts series presenters (42%), as well as 50 organizations presenting both a series and a festival (8%), and 29 presenter support organizations (5%). A total of 590 projects in 245 communities were supported through grants and contributions provided by CAPF in 2010-2011.
  • In 2009-2010, Building Communities through Arts and Heritage provided funding to 801 festivals.
  • In 2010-2011, the Marquee Tourism Events Program provided funding to 47 events, nearly half of which were cultural or artistic festivals.
  • Statistics Canada's General Social Survey, as reported by Hill Strategies Research, also indicates that, in 2010, 60.4% of Canadians attended a theatre, popular music or classical music performance (16.9 million). This data is however not comparable with that of 2005, because the nature of the question is slightly different.


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