A Month for Artists

photo: Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

When it comes to the value of the arts, Albertans really get it. So let’s not forget the value of the artist.

It’s no secret that Albertans love the arts, even more than our fellow Canadians – just check the numbers:

According to the latest (2016) Statistics Canada National Household Survey, Alberta spent $4,112 per household on culture and recreation goods and services over the year, which was $632 higher than the national average of $3,480. This puts us a comfortable 18.2 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

photo: Travel Alberta/Anthony Redpath

We spend the most money per capita on culture and recreation goods and services, including recreation equipment, attendance at live sporting and performing arts events, admissions to museums, and package trips. Over the course of 2016, 76 per cent of us attended an arts event and 57 per cent participated in artistic activities.

We do it for reasons that go beyond just the personal benefit: 87 per cent of those surveyed felt that arts and culture activities made their community a better place to live, and 84 per cent felt they were important to their community’s overall quality of life.

Beyond the feel-good effects, the arts are good for our provincial economy. In 2016, 44,880 Albertans were employed in the arts, entertainment and recreation. In 2016, the visual and applied arts, along with live performance industries in Alberta, contributed approximately $1.3 billion to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As in other sectors of the economy, arts and culture offer lucrative imports and exports. One major import is people visiting our province to enjoy cultural offerings. In 2016, travellers to Alberta enjoyed 1.4 million overnight visits while taking in arts and cultural activities.

Exports include cultural products such as movies and television, digital media, book and magazine publishing and music recording, among others. Statistics Canada estimates that Alberta exported $777.5 million worth of culture products to the world in 2016.

The people behind the art

Behind that story of extraordinary creativity and expression there are people, Albertans of every age and background, with an astonishing wealth of experience and vision. They bring it all to life, because it helps them make sense of the world and enriches their personal journey through the world. They contribute to arts and culture because it makes their communities more beautiful and cohesive and fun. They do it because it’s what they were put on earth to do, even if it is just one small part of their life, crammed in alongside work or school or raising a family.

This January, to recognize the amazing contributions artists make, Alberta is becoming the first province in Canada to dedicate an entire month to celebrating them. The Month of the Artist is an opportunity for Albertans to go to art shows and events, purchase a work by a local artist, or just take time to consider the dedication and vision that go into doing what artists do.

To learn more, check out the Month of the Artist webpage. As you’ll read there, “the Month of the Artist is one way the Government of Alberta is helping to raise awareness about Alberta’s artists, celebrate their accomplishments and contributions to the province, and say thank you for making Alberta a better place to live.”

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