News > Encouraging signs of recovery for the performing arts

Encouraging signs of recovery for the performing arts

National Culture Indicators for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Man and woman wearing traditional clothing singing together.
Asitha Tennekoon and Melody Courage performed operatic repertoire and works by Indigenous composers and librettists during Hasalala Danxalax, a concert presented at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on November 20, 2021. Photo credit: Paul H. Joseph.

The nominal gross domestic product for the live performance domain increased 30.4% during the fourth quarter of 2021, reaching $468 million. This is the second consecutive increase for a sector that hadn’t seen any recovery at all up until last summer. The live performance domain also welcomed 5,423 workers back.

Not quite half-way through to full recovery

While these increases are significant, the live performance domain still has a long way to go to  recovery. At the worst of the pandemic, during the second quarter of 2020, the live performance real GDP (taking inflation into account) was 66.2% lower than during the last quarter of 2019. With this second consecutive increase, the live performance real GDP is now 40.1% away from its pre-pandemic level.

Chart showing a sharp GDP drop for the live performance domain, from 100% in Q4 2019 to 34% in Q2 2020. By Q4 2021, it is at 60%.
Real GDP for the live performance domain fell 66% over the two first quarters of 2021. After a full year of stagnation, it increased swiftly over the last two fourth quarters of 2021, but it remains 40% away from recovery. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain, real gross domestic product, 2012 constant price, quarterly, seasonally adjusted.

On an annual basis, the live performance nominal GDP for 2021 was $1,393 million. This was less than in 2020, at $1,474 million, and considerably lower than in 2019, when it topped $3,031 million.

Another 5,400 artists and cultural managers got back to work

Employment didn’t grow quite as fast as GDP, but nonetheless continued on the upward trend initiated in the previous quarter. Employment in the live performance domain grew 11.9% in the last quarter of 2021, reaching 50,872 jobs. This represented a net increase of 5,423 jobs, on top of the 8,989 jobs gain registered in the previous quarter. Compared to the last quarter of 2019, employment in the live performance domain remains 30.4% below its pre-pandemic level.

Bar chart with employment statistics among performing arts and festivals. There is a sharp drop in Q2 2020, and then significant increases in Q3 and Q4 2021.
Employment in the live performance domain declined from 73,072 before the pandemic to as low as 36,489 in the second quarter of 2021. It increased in the fourth quarter of 2021, to 50,872 jobs. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain, jobs, quarterly, seasonally adjusted.

Effective government interventions

The increases observed over the second half of 2021 coincided with the lifting of public health restrictions between the fourth and the fifth wave of the COVID pandemic. They also echoed the announcement and the rolling out of several sector-specific measures to support the hardest hit sector. A $181.5 million investment for “Supporting Workers in the Live Events and Arts Sectors” was first announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statements, and details about the roll out of these project-based measures were announced in March 2021. The effect of these measures would have started to be felt on the ground a few months later, precisely when employment statistics rebounded. 

What remains to be seen is if these measures, as well as subsequent announcements in the 2021 federal budget, will have helped the performance arts sector weather the Omicron wave, which led to another round of government-mandated restrictions and closures between December 2021 and February 2022. The National Culture Indicators for the first quarter of 2022 will be released in July – and CAPACOA’s analysis will be published shortly after.

Data tables

Real gross domestic product (x 1,000) by domain of culture

DomainQ4 2019Q4 2021Compared to pre-COVID (%)
Culture total12,922,04412,782,912-1.1%
Heritage and libraries171,101146,834-14.2%
Live performance663,840397,866-40.1%
Visual and applied arts2,599,4632,622,9220.9%
Written and published works1,717,3971,454,810-15.3%
Audio-visual and interactive media4,800,4655,133,4086.9%
Sound recording149,808149,679-0.1%
Education and training765,158779,8441.9%
Governance, funding and professional support1,827,4791,867,5782.2%
Multi domain227,333229,9731.2%
Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain. Real gross domestic product, 2012 constant price (x 1,000), quarterly. Calculations by CAPACOA. 

Jobs by domain of culture

DomainQ4 2019Q4 2021Compared to pre-COVIDCompared to pre-COVID (%)
Culture total678,275661,479-16,796-2.5%
Heritage and libraries18,32316,692-1,631-8.9%
Live performance73,07250,872-22,200-30.4%
Visual and applied arts150,419154,1633,7442.5%
Written and published works104,15292,014-12,138-11.7%
Audio-visual and interactive media170,660182,63311,9737.0%
Sound recording8,2908,140-150-1.8%
Education and training55,11856,9041,7863.2%
Governance, funding and professional support88,46590,0731,6081.8%
Multi domain9,7759,9882132.2%
Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain. Jobs, quarterly, seasonally adjusted. Calculations by CAPACOA. 

More information

The National Culture Indicators in The Daily

National Culture Indicators for the third quarter of 2021

More COVID Impact Statistics

About the National Culture Indicators

  • The National Culture Indicators (NCI) provide timely and detailed economic statistics about the culture sector. The NCI are an extension of the Culture Satellite Account. They were developed by the Culture Statistics Strategy Consortium, of which CAPACOA is an active member. Before the NCI, CAPACOA used to rely on the Labour Force Survey to monitor employment in the arts sector.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity, defined as the total value of final goods and services produced within the limits of a given geographic area during a given time period.
  • Culture GDP is the value added related to the production of culture goods and services across the economy, regardless of the producing industry.
  • Real GDP figures are in constant 2012 dollars – they take inflation into account. Nominal GDP figures are in current dollars.
  • Culture jobs are the number of jobs that are related to the production of culture goods and services.
  • Culture is dominated by large seasonal fluctuations exhibiting similar patterns from one year to the next. For the convenience of users, these regular variations are removed from the NCI, through a statistical technique known as seasonal adjustment, to help isolate underlying trends.
  • Culture Satellite Account statistics are grouped by domains and subdomains. The definitions of culture domains and sub-domains can be found in the Conceptual Framework for Culture Statistics 2011. Mapping between culture domains and the North American Industry Classification System can be found in the Classification Guide for the Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics 2011.

Prepared by: Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development, CAPACOA.

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Written by Frédéric Julien
Frédéric Julien has been leading research and development activities at the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts since 2010. In this capacity, he has directed or authored several key research initiatives such as The Value of Presenting, Vital Signs: Arts and Belonging, Digitizing the Performing Arts, as well as many analyses of Statistics Canada data series. Frédéric also leads the Linked Digital Future initiative, which seeks to enhance the discoverability of the performing arts.

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