Municipalities that adopt culture as an industry have gained positive economic benefits for their communities.

Numbers released this spring by Statistics Canada indicate that the direct economic impact of culture industries was $58.9 billion in Canada in 2017.  That’s $1,611 per capita, or 2.8% of national GDP!

Quick breakdown of GDP:

Culture Industry – $59 billion

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting – $39 billion

Accommodation & Food Services – $46 billion

Utilities – $46 billion

Sports – $7.3 billion

According to StatsCan data, the culture industries also have 8x more economic impact than what is provided by sports.  StatsCan says the direct economic impact of sports industries was $7.3 billion in 2017, compared to nearly $59 billion for culture.

The number of jobs in the culture industries, according to StatsCan, is also almost 6x larger than in the sports industries – 716,400 compared to 125,500.

Some key contributors to the GDP of culture products include:

  • Audio-visual and interactive media: $17.9 billion
  • Visual and applied arts: $10.2 billion
  • Written and published works: $8.3 billion
  • Live performance: $2.8 billion
  • Heritage and libraries (only those privately owned): $0.7 billion
  • Sound recording: $0.6 billion

Culture gross domestic product and jobs increase

Culture GDP in Canada increased 1.8% to $53.1 billion in 2017. During the same period, economy-wide GDP increased 5.7%. As a proportion of Canada’s overall GDP, culture accounted for 2.7%. Culture GDP rose in eight of nine domains, including sound recording (+7.2%), audio-visual and interactive media (+2.4%) and visual and applied arts (+1.7%). Written and published works (-1.9%) reported the sole decrease, as all but one of its sub-domains declined in 2017.

Culture jobs in Canada increased 1.6% to 666,500, while economy-wide jobs grew 1.9% in 2017. Culture accounted for 3.6% of all jobs in the economy. The audio-visual and interactive media (+3.1%) and visual and applied arts (+3.3%) domains each accounted for an increase of over 4,700 jobs. Culture jobs in live performance also increased 2.4%, while they decreased in written and published works (-2.7%), sound recording (-0.6%) and heritage and libraries (-0.3%).

The three largest provinces—Ontario ($25.0 billion), Quebec ($11.0 billion) and British Columbia ($7.1 billion)—had the highest culture GDP in 2017. On a per capita basis, Ontario ($1,765) recorded the largest culture GDP.

Chart 1

Contribution to culture gross domestic product (GDP) and jobs, Canada, 2017

bar clustered chart&8211;Chart1,

Chart 2

Contribution to sport gross domestic product (GDP) and jobs, Canada, 2017


bar clustered chart&8211;Chart2,



Statistics Canada – Released Spring 2019

Provincial & Territorial Budgets

Hill Strategies: Estimates of the Direct Economic Impact of Culture in Canada in 2017

Canadianart: Culture Industries have $58.9 Billion Impact in Canada

Creative City: Arts as an Economic Engine

Culture as an Economic Driver [PDF]

Conference Board of Canada

Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy [PDF]