Issues & Advocacy

Arts and culture is recognized as a means to community building, encouraging outdoor activity, healthy lifestyles, life-long learning, increasing accessibility to programs for all levels of society, and celebrating diversity and cultural differences.

Social and Health Benefits of the Arts

September 2014 - Hill Strategies presents three Canadian studies and one Scottish report related to the social and health benefits of the arts, including a Toronto report on neighbourhood-based community development through the arts, a Vancouver study of the arts and seniors’ well-being, an overview of the potential impacts of documentary films on social change, and a Scottish study of the connection between cultural engagement and health and well-being.

Link to the full Hill Strategies report.

Arts Participation and Engagement

August 2014 - Hill Strategies Research: Beyond simple attendance rates, what can be said of the outcomes of cultural participation? Are there relationships and connections that have broader social impacts? This recent study looks at key issues related to arts participation and engagement explored at the 'Measuring Cultural Engagement amid Confounding Variables' research symposium.

The symposium tackled some large and challenging questions, such as “what counts as ‘the arts’? and “what do people consider culture?” In many jurisdictions, there has been a broadening of the types of cultural participation or engagement factors measured via surveys. The complexities of cultural participation in a digital world were discussed at the symposium. The importance of places and spaces to cultural participation was also discussed.

One participant noted that a recent Italian study found a direct correlation between cultural consumption and individual wellbeing. A symposium speaker indicated that Canadian research has shown strong correlations between arts participation and positive social outcomes. The key question of outcomes research, as phrased by one speaker, is “How do we think about healthy places?”

Read the full report here.

Understanding Diversity in British Columbia Arts Audiences

June 2014 - Hill Strategies Research: Many arts organizations struggle to reflect the diversity of their communities within their audiences, and would like to learn more about how diversity is reflected in the arts sector as a whole. This presentation provided national and provincial arts attendance statistics, focussing on key elements of the demographic diversity of British Columbia.

The goal of the presentation was to build understanding and stimulate discussion among arts organizations, community leaders, and government representatives on the relationship between the arts and the diversity of British Columbia. The presentation helped attendees further develop conversations about audience diversity, based on a shared understanding of the statistical realities.

Download the full report.

Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada

May 2014 - The Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada, the 39th report in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series, examines whether connections exist between Canadians' cultural activities and their personal well-being. The data in the report show that there is a strong connection between 18 cultural activities and eight indicators of health and well-being (such as health, mental health, volunteering, feeling stressed, and overall satisfaction with life).

Six cultural activities and three social indicators were selected for detailed statistical modeling. The key findings of the statistical models are that:

  • Art gallery visits are associated with better health and higher volunteer rates.
  • Theatre attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Classical music attendance is associated with higher volunteer rates and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Pop music attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Attendance at cultural festivals is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
  • Reading books is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.

Link to the Hill Strategies Research Inc. full report.

Landmark Study Sheds Light on Profound Benefits of the Performing Arts

April 2013 - Performing arts presenting generates a wide range of benefits for Canadians, the communities they live in and society at large, according to a report prepared by Strategic Moves and released today by the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA).

The Value of Presenting: A Study of Performing Arts Presentation in Canada includes a comprehensive historical and contemporary overview of the performing arts ecosystem. It reveals that performing arts are valued by the vast majority of Canadians – across socio-economic differences – and it provides a new perspective on younger Canadians’ interest in live performing arts. Most importantly, the study identifies a broad range of public benefits associated with performing arts presentation, including better health and well-being, greater energy and vitality in communities, and a more caring and cohesive society.

Read the full report on the CAPACOA website.

Volunteers & Donors in Arts & Cultural Organizations

March 2013 - Many arts and culture organizations in Canada are organized as not-for-profit organizations and rely on individuals to donate time or money in order to help achieve their mandates. Volunteers and Donors in Arts and Culture Organizations in Canada in 2010, the 40th report in the Statistical Insights on the Arts series, highlights the volunteer time and financial donations given to Canadian arts and culture organizations.

The report is based on statistics that Hill Strategies Research queried from Statistics Canada’s 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP), a survey of more than 15,000 Canadians 15 or older.  About 1.4 million Canadians volunteered for or donated to arts and culture organizations (or did both) in 2010. This represents 5.1% of Canadians 15 or older.

The full report also provides estimates of the number of arts and culture volunteers and donors in each province. While the provincial estimates of volunteers and donors are statistically reliable, all of the provincial statistics – except for British Columbia and Ontario – have a relatively high margin of error and should be used with caution. Unfortunately, estimates of arts and culture volunteers and donors in the three territories have high margins of error and cannot be reliably stated.

Link to the full Hill Strategies Report.

Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities

January 2012 - A study prepared for the City of Vancouver, the City of Calgary, the City of Toronto, the City of Ottawa and the Ville de Montréal. This report compares the municipal cultural investment in five of Canada’s largest cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal.

The municipal cultural investments included in this study are operating, grant and capital expenditures related to the performing arts, visual and media arts, crafts, design, museums, heritage, special events, multidisciplinary activities, creative and cultural industries, city-owned cultural facilities, cultural districts, public art, and other art purchases. The net investment figures reported in this summary exclude funds transferred from other levels of government as well as other sources of revenue. The net investment figures therefore provide estimates of what was spent from the municipal tax base. The full report contains more information about gross investment figures.

In each city, the net cultural investment in 2009 was:

  • $27.4 million in Vancouver (population 578,000)
  • $22.4 million in Ottawa (population 812,100)
  • $41.9 million in Calgary (population 988,200)
  • $89.0 million in Montréal (population 1,620,700)
  • $47.5 million in Toronto (population 2,503,300)

In the five cities combined, the average total net cultural investment amounted to $35 per resident in 2009. In each of the five cities:

  • Montréal’s cultural investment of $55 per capita ranked first in 2009.
  • Vancouver ranked second, with a net amount of $47 per person invested in the cultural sector in 2009.
  • Calgary’s net cultural investment was $42 per capita in 2009, ranking the city third among the five cities.
  • The City of Ottawa’s net cultural investment of $28 per capita in 2009 ranked fourth.
  • Toronto’s net cultural investment of $19 per person in 2009 ranked last among the five cities.

View the full report at the Hill Strategies Research website.

How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce, and Enhance Sense of Place

May 2011 - This briefing paper by the American Planning Association highlights how “arts and culture strategies help to reveal and enhance the underlying identity — the unique meaning, value, and character — of the physical and social form of a community. This identity is reflected through the community's character or sense of place. A community's sense of place is not a static concept; rather, it evolves and develops over time, reflecting the spectrum of social values within and around the community.

Awareness of community identity and character is strengthened by the consideration of all community interests in decision- making processes; the integration of arts and cultural resources with civic visioning programs; and the balancing of the inherent conflicting nature of past, present, and future social values.

Read the full report on the American Planning Association website.

Music Education in Schools

November 2010 - While there has been extensive international research on the benefits of music education for young people, there has been only limited research on the state of music education in Canada. A Delicate Balance, a ground-breaking report prepared by Hill Strategies for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, suggests that schools across Canada desperately need funding to keep up with the demand for quality music programs.

The survey was completed by 1,204 schools across Canada, and the report provides detailed information about a range of issues in music education. Valuable feedback was provided in the additional comments made by teachers and principals, which offered an opportunity to integrate quantitative and qualitative information. As one principal said, “I believe music is one of the most important things we can offer our school community”.

Read the full report here.

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