SAINT JOHN – A New Brunswick arts organization hopes to provide the province with a clearer picture of its arts and culture workforce, and suggest ways to better support a significant industry that doesn’t adequately compensate the people who have culture sector jobs.
ArtsLink NB, an organization aiming to unify and support New Brunswick’s arts and culture sector, has hired economist David Campbell to do a survey of working artists in New Brunswick. The goal is to combine information from the survey with Statistics Canada and other data into a comprehensive profile of the artist workforce in New Brunswick. The stats will be compiled into a report along with a number of recommendations.
The goal of the survey and report is to help ArtsLink, government, education and other stakeholders as they look to support this segment of the workforce.
ArtsLink NB executive director Julie Whitenect says the new report will be a follow-up on the previous one done back in 2013 called “Sustaining New Brunswick’s Arts and Cultural Workforce.” She says Campbell, who also worked on the first report, will help the organization get updated numbers that reflect the changes that have happened since then.
“He did an extensive survey about the current state of New Brunswick’s cultural labour force and it’s been over five years and we’ve had a census since then and there have been a number of other research reports that have taken place,” says Whitenect. “So we thought it was a good time to revisit it and try to enhance the research and those statistics and to see what has changed in New Brunswick and what still needs to happen.”
The arts and culture workforce includes artists in every discipline working on their art part-time or as a “side hustle” to full-time. The survey was sent out last week to ArtsLink NB’s membership and to their partnering organizations.
“We’re looking at all of that across New Brunswick in all communities and all languages. That ranges from emerging artists who are working part-time as artists but have a day job not in the arts, and in all disciplines,” says Whitenect.
The survey will also include people who work on the administrative side at places like theatres and organizations like ArtsLink NB, where there is actually a labour shortage.
“We also wanted to add more of an organizational component because we see huge labour gaps ourselves and with our colleagues pertaining to hiring,” says Whitenect. “Anytime you want to hire someone in the arts, someone with an arts administration background, it’s almost doesn’t exist, or they get poached from you during the process. It’s really difficult hiring right now.”
The 2013 report found the arts and culture sector was not among the highest paying in New Brunswick. In 2011, the average weekly wage for this sector in New Brunswick was just under $524 – or an annualized employment income of $27,248. Yet, the arts and culture sector contributed around $549 million to the provincial GDP.
The new report will be completed by the end of the year. Whitenect says the goal to have the new data serve as a guide for the provincial government and other organizations to better support the sector.
“Our biggest hope is to have a clear picture of the current state of the cultural labour force, we see cultural workers as essential to the prosperity of New Brunswick as outlined in the original research,” she says. “Having this report will ensure that ArtsLink and its partner organizations, as well as the provincial government, can implement specific initiatives and strategies to enhance this sector.”