Waging Culture 2017 Demographics 1: First Language, Regions, and Age Demographics
There’s a reason to include all three of these together: in our 2012 survey, we had the feeling that we had undersampled Francophone artists, specifically in Quebec, and oversampled young artists in Toronto. While our numbers certainly showed a skewing away from the demographics of the general population, there is no way to verify if this is indeed an accurate divergence from the norm or if it is an artifact of our sampling technique (a sampling error). After all, if we already knew the make-up of our study population, well, we wouldn’t have to do the study in the first place!
A methodological aside: there are not a lot of artists in Quebec outside of Montreal, and the accuracy of such a small subsample is going to be lower than in the metropolitan areas of the country (Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver). For that matter, the same holds true for the Atlantic region, the Prairies, BC outside of Vancouver, and the Territories. Thus, we tend to restrict subsampling of geographic areas, and any other relatively small subsample, concentrating instead on the areas that have larger pools of respondents. In other words, the sampling errors induced through the small sample size of, say, the Atlantic is reduced when considered as part of a larger conglomeration, such as in our breakdown of the three main metropolitan conglomerations and then a catchall for all non-metro areas.
To return to our question of potential undersampling in our 2012 iteration of the survey, our suspicions were nevertheless raised when we realized that we had as many Anglophone artists in Quebec as Francophones. This ratio appears to have righted itself in the 2016 numbers, and our Montreal numbers appear to be more believable as well. As a whole, on a national scale, in 2016 Francophone artists are now about 20% of our sample, which reflects the percentage in both the Canadian labour force and in the general population.
Through all three iterations of the survey, artists whose first language is neither English nor French (to use the ever-useful term from Quebec, Allophones) have been consistently half what might be expected from the labour force surveys. This does not suggest to us that we have consistently undersampled Allophones, however, as this pattern is mirrored in the underrepresentation of racialized artists, which will be discussed in a later post.
We also saw a huge bump from 2007 to 2012 in Toronto-based responses, along with a jump in artists aged 25 to 34 (e.g., born 1978–87). We had speculated here as well that there was a sampling error, with disproportionate responses from Toronto-based artists in that age range. In 2017, however, we see a jump in artists 35 to 44 (e.g., born 1973–82) as well as a consistent proportion of artists in Toronto. The share of artists in metro regions has dropped, due to a decrease in responses from Montreal and Vancouver. Perhaps our 2012 numbers are more accurate than we assumed, at least with regards to Toronto-based residency. We’re not so sure about Vancouver and Montreal, although anecdotal evidence suggests that both of these cities have been losing artists over the last decade.
As for that demographic surge of artists, if we chart out the year of birth, we do see a significant hike in artists born between 1979 and 1984 in both 2012 and 2017. These years are significant for two reasons: those nearer 1979 would have been finishing their undergraduate degrees during the early 2000 economic recession, and those closer to 1984 would have been finishing their graduate degrees around the 2008 crash. It is generally understood that when there are economic downturns, enrollment and pursuit of sectors like the arts increase, as there is a lower overall opportunity cost of doing so. In other words, when “well-paying” jobs are fewer, the perceived cost of pursuing poorly-paying jobs is lower and so there is more incentive to take on careers that provide intrinsic rewards.
[Footnote 1] The term Visible Minority is used by Statistics Canada, and has been used, since the Employment Equity Act of 1995, based on the Abella Commission of 1984. It represents those who are neither Caucasian nor Indigenous, and lumps together a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, and identities. As such, it is a contested term, one that can be understood to homogenize a whole range of divergent identities into one simplistic catch-phrase. In particular, the usage of the term minority is one that suggests a pre-existing power dynamic. We have agonized over the use of this term over the years. To break down the category into less broad subcategories would be to subdivide into statistically insignificant subsamples. To ignore the category as a whole would be to ignore the existence of structural racism in Canada today. For this reason, and for the reason that we use it in the survey instrument (and thus are able to compare to similar demographic studies of Statistics Canada), we will continue to use it for analytic purposes. To acknowledge the contested status of the term, however, we will have shifted our vocabulary to refer instead to racialized artists. [For more see: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/statcan-modernize-diversity-visible-minority-1.5128288]
This is one of a series of mini-reports on the results of the 2017 Waging Culture survey, a study of the socio-economic conditions faced by Canadian-resident professional visual artists. Supported by the Art Gallery of York University, it is an undertaking of Michael Maranda. This is the third iteration of the survey which was funded by a Supporting Artistic Practice project grant from the Canada Council. Comments and questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
28 Nov 2019
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