Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Services

(NAICS 7111-7115; 7121; 7131-7139)

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating facilities or providing services to meet the cultural, entertainment and recreational interests of their patrons, including live performances and events or exhibits intended for public viewing. It is composed of three segments: performing arts, spectator sports and related services (live presentations involving actors, singers, dancers, musicians, writers, athletes, and their respective agents, managers and technicians); heritage institutions (museums, historic sites, zoos, botanic gardens, nature parks); and amusement, gambling and recreation industries (such as golf courses, skiing facilities, marinas, recreational, sports and fitness centres, bowling centres, amusement parks, arcades, casinos, etc.). Amusement, gambling and recreation services are the largest segment, accounting for 48% of production and 61% of employment in 2018. The other two segments accounted for the remaining share of production (i.e. 52%; breakdown is not available for GDP), with performing arts, spectator sports and related industries accounting for 30% of employment, compared to 8% for heritage institutions. Overall, the industry employed 444,500 workers in 2018, mostly concentrated in Ontario (39%), Quebec (23%), British Columbia (16%) and Alberta (12%). The workforce is evenly split between men and women and is characterized by a large proportion of part-time workers (39%). The performing arts and spectator sports segment is also characterized by a substantial concentration of self-employed (65%). Given the wide variety of activities, key occupations (4-digit NOC) include a mix of:

  • Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (5254)
  • Operators and attendants in amusement, recreation and sport (6722)
  • Authors and writers (5121)
  • Actors and comedians (5135)
  • Musicians and singers (5133)
  • Painters, sculptors and other visual artists (5136)
  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance labourers (8612)
  • Coaches (5252)
  • Facility operation and maintenance managers (0714)
  • Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries (5212)
  • Casino occupations (6533)
  • Sports officials and referees (5253)
  • Other performers, n.e.c. (5232)
  • Artisans and craftspersons (5244)
  • Accommodation, travel, tourism and related services supervisors (6313)
  • Conservators and curators (5112)
  • Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131)
  • Recreation, sports and fitness policy researchers, consultants and program officers (4167)
  • Other technical and co-ordinating occ. in motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts (5226)
  • Conference and event planners (1226)
  • Recreation, sports and fitness program and service directors (0513)
  • Audio and video recording technicians (5225)
  • Outdoor sport and recreational guides (6532)
  • Support occ. in motion pictures, broadcasting, photography and performing arts (5227)
  • Conductors, composers and arrangers (5132)
  • Library, archive, museum and art gallery managers (0511)
  • Managers - publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting and performing arts (0512)
  • Athletes (5251)
  • Tour and travel guides (6531)

The industry is largely driven by consumer spending and tourism activity, making it particularly sensitive to fluctuations in domestic and foreign economic conditions, as well as changes in discretionary expenditures. It is also heavily reliant on government funding, particularly grants dedicated to art organizations. The industry’s output started to decline during the recession of 2008-2009, as a result of anemic growth in consumer spending. After reaching a trough in 2010, output remained essentially flat in the subsequent four years, as consumers remained cautious about economic conditions and restrained their discretionary expenditures. However, output increased markedly from 2014 to 2018, driven by the release of some pent-up demand and major sporting and historical events hosted in Canada in 2015 and 2017, namely the PanAm Games, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation and the 375th anniversary of Montreal. The decline in the value of the Canadian dollar in 2014-2015 and the fact that Canada was recognized as the best travel destination by Lonely Planet and the New York Times in 2017 also attracted a large number of foreign tourists to Canada, particularly Americans, while encouraging more Canadians to choose vacation within the country, increasing demand for arts, entertainment and recreation activities during the past five years. Lower transportation costs resulting from lower fuel costs represent an additional factor that contributed to increase tourism activity. The resulting pace of growth in the industry’s real GDP averaged 1.3% annually over the period 2009-2018, with most of the gains occurring in the second half of the past decade. In comparison, employment increased almost continuously over the last ten years, expanding at an average annual rate of 2.1%. Most of the employment gains occurred in the highly labour intensive recreation segment, more specifically in establishments related to sports activities (such as golf courses, ski resorts, marinas, and fitness centres). Government funding is also a key supporter of employment in the industry, which is highly vulnerable to changes in macroeconomic conditions and heavily dependant on large and irregular events. Some of the activities provided by the industry would not even be possible in the absence of government grants, particularly in arts. According to the Canada Council for the Arts[8], in fiscal year 2018-2019, over 2,800 Canadian artists and about 2,000 arts organizations received grants from the Council for the creation, production and presentation of their work.

Output growth in the industry is projected to accelerate somewhat over the period 2019-2028, primarily driven by a positive outlook for tourism activity and the increase anticipated in leisure time. Tourism activity should continue to benefit from a favourable currency situation, low transportation costs, and robust labour markets in the United States and Canada, increasing demand for arts, entertainment and recreation activities within the country, particularly in the short- to medium-term. Over the longer term, Canada will be among the three countries to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup (with the United States and Mexico), and this is also expected to increase the number of international visitors. In the meanwhile, the industry should benefit from massive retirements of baby-boomers from the labour market, as this large and relatively well-off demographic group will have more time to spend on leisure activities. Baby-boomers are expected to inherit $750 billion in wealth and assets over the next ten years, providing another source of income to spend on arts, entertainment and recreation activities. This will help to compensate for the slower pace of growth projected in disposable income and consumer spending resulting from the gradual slowdown in the working-age population. High household debt levels (and any potential increases in interest rates over the longer-term horizon in response to inflationary pressures resulting from a tighter labour market) are also expected to put pressures on household budgets, restraining discretionary spending on arts and recreation activities.

On average, the industry’s real GDP is projected to increase by 1.7% annually over the period 2019-2028, a slight acceleration relative to the previous ten years. In contrast, employment growth is expected to weaken significantly, averaging 1.1% per year due to a notable pick-up in productivity. Because many arts and culture organizations are non-profits, the industry depends on volunteers to complement paid staff, and this is an important consideration when it comes to future employment and productivity trends. For example, according to Statistics Canada[9], Canadians volunteered the equivalent of 56,000 jobs in arts and culture organizations in 2013, with individuals aged 55 and over dedicating the highest number of hours volunteered. As the baby boom generation enters retirement, this demographic group will have extra leisure time, not just for consuming the output of the industry, but also for contributing to it as volunteers, allowing the industry to increase production without necessarily hiring additional paid workers. Another trend that should contribute to increase productivity is capital investment. Many cultural and recreational facilities dated from the 1960s and 1970s are expected to be renovated and upgraded through the infrastructure program put in place by the federal government. The renewal of those facilities should help to improve the quality of service, increase attendance and, ultimately, raise output in the industry.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Services

Figure showing the annual average growth rates of real GDP and employment over the periods 2009-2018 and 2019-2028 for the industry of arts, entertainment and recreation services. The data is shown on the table following this figure

Sources: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2019 COPS industrial projections.

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Services (%, annual average)
  Real GDP Employment
2009-2018 1.3 2.1
2019-2028 1.7 1.1

Sources: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2019 COPS industrial projections.

[8]Canadian Council for the Arts, http://canadacouncil.ca/funding/grants. Back to text.

[9]Statistics Canada, Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey; Volunteering and charitable giving in Canada, Catalogue no. 89-652-X2015001, January 2015. Back to text.


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