HR Study 2010

> HR Trends and Issues

Visual Arts and Crafts - Highlights

Purchase all three documents that make up HR Study 2010 in a printable electronic format

The HR Study 2010 package contains: HR Trends and Issues, Labour Market Information for Canada's Cultural Sector and The Effect of the Global Economic Recession on Canada's Creative Economy in 2009.

Fast Facts

The real value added output (GDP) of the visual arts and crafts subsector in 2009 was estimated to be $1.2 billion.
Canadian consumer spending on visual arts and crafts was $1.5 billion in 2008.
Exports for visual arts and crafts in 2008 totalled $207 million.
Total federal government support for the visual arts and crafts subsector was $24.6 million for 2007/08.
In the visual arts and crafts subsector, there were 2,627 establishments registered in 2009, none of which were large or medium-sized, but 45 of which were small and 829 of which were micro-sized.

Major issues

Impact of 2008 Economic Downtown

The impact of the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent changes to consumer and business spending has lead to significant challenges for the visual arts and crafts subsector. It was seen as the top issue by almost half of survey respondents. By 2009, the subsector consisted of 16 per cent fewer registered businesses than in 2006.

Public Appreciation

The public's view of visual arts and crafts as non-essential goods or services was ranked by survey respondents as the top trend or issue affecting the subsector.

New Technologies

New technologies are altering and influencing the ways in which visual artists and craftspeople work. Their traditional tools of canvas and paint are now augmented and expanded by pixels and animation. New technologies are also creating concerns over intellectual property rights.

Need for Collaboration

A lack of collaboration among subsector stakeholders was a significant issue in visual arts and crafts. Achieving common goals as a unified community is challenging for visual artists and craftspeople since they tend to work in isolation.

Lack of opportunities

Employers such as art galleries indicated that a substantial challenge for them was in attracting and retaining qualified workers due to the low levels of compensation and a lack of opportunities in the subsector.

Low, unstable incomes

Visual artists and craftspeople face the challenges of lower earning levels and unstable work. Insufficient earnings topped the list of visual arts survey respondent issues. Self-employment brings a host of human resource challenges in the areas of income security, financial management, time management, and "employment" benefits including insurance, health coverage, and retirement plans.

Training needed

Beyond artistic skills, artists need technological and marketing skills to understand how best to distribute and promote their work. Many workers in the visual arts and crafts subsector have good "technical" and "creative" skills but lack business skills. They would benefit from enhancing their entrepreneurial skills, especially in the areas of marketing, negotiation, and financial management.


  1. Undertake research on models for ensuring social benefits for aging artists, including pension schemes, retirement funds and income guarantees.

  2. Support the establishment and sharing of fee schedules and codes of practice for artists and galleries.

  3. Support business skills training for employers, visual artists and craftspeople, in the areas of digital technology opportunities.

  4. Support training for visual artists and craftspeople on intellectual property and copyright laws.

  5. Support training in export marketing to leverage emerging market opportunities and to develop new markets.

  6. Undertake labour market research for visual artists and craftspeople, including the establishment of occupational codes for craftspeople, and methodology for gathering statistics on both employers and artists and craftspeople.

  7. Develop internship opportunities for emerging artists in arts practice issues and management.

  8. Undertake research into the training/mentorship needed for skills associated with art forms, First Nations and ethno-cultural traditions that are at risk of being lost.