Many sound engineering jobs are found in the cultural industries: film, music, theatre, etc. Sound engineers therefore have more job opportunities in geographic regions where cultural industries are more present. Last year Hill Strategies published the results of some research they conducted regarding the economic benefits of culture in Canada. The data, based on unpublished data from Statistics Canada and on the 2010 Provincial and Territorial Culture Satellite Account, covers each province and territory individually and looks at the direct economic and employment impacts of culture. The Cultural Satellite Account (or CSA) covers arts, culture and heritage. I took a look at this study and will share some numbers that concern sound engineers working in cultural industries in Quebec and Ontario. This study allows us to put in perspective the impact of cultural industries on the Gross Domestic Product and the importance of the cultural industry compared to other industries.
Gross Domestic Product and jobs
From these reports we learn that in Canada the direct economic impact of cultural industries was $53.4 billion in 2010. To put this in perspective, cultural industries represent 3.4% of Canada’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In all 707200 jobs are directly related to culture. This represents 4.1% of total employment in Canada. If, like me, you need some comparison to get a better idea, here is what the sports industry represents according to the same CSA: the direct impact of the sports industry on the economy is $5.2 billion in Canada in 2010. The sports industry accounts for 105 300 jobs. In Canada in other word, cultural industries contribute ten times more to the GDP than sports industries and jobs in culture are seven times more important than jobs in sports industries.
Culture industry categories
This GDP of over $53 billion from cultural industries is obtained by adding different cultural industries together. As sound engineers we are mostly interested in audio-visual and interactive media (contributing $13.9 billion to the GDP), live performances (contributing $2 billion to the GDP) and sound recording (contributing $0.5 billion). If you are looking for work as a sound engineer it can signify that there is more money available in film, television and video games than in concerts and theatre for example. And there is much less money going around in recording studios. Bear in mind that in audio-visual and interactive media sound engineers probably account for a smaller portion of the jobs in that industry whereas in a bigger proportion of the jobs in live performances are held by sound engineers. In the sound recording industry we probably find the biggest portion of jobs held by sound engineers but that industry is much smaller than the other two. Other key contributors to the GDP of cultural industries include visual and applied arts ($13.4 billion) along with written and published works ($10.2 billion). However sound is not an important element in these categories so they do not concern us as much.
The study takes a look at each province and territory but I will focus on Quebec and Ontario. These two provinces provide 67.3% of culture industry jobs in Canada. These are also the provinces that contribute the most to the cultural industry portion of the GDP and these are probably the provinces with the most job opportunities for a sound engineer looking for work.
Of the $53 billion the cultural industries represent in Canada’s GDP, Ontario directly contributed $23.8 billion of that to the GDP. This means that 44.7% of culture contribution to GDP comes from Ontario ($23.8 billion out of $53.4 billion). The province of Ontario generates more money from cultural industries than any other province in Canada. Most of this money is generated in visual and applied arts or audiovisual and interactive media. There are about 301100 jobs in the cultural industries in Ontario, that is 4.5% of all the jobs available in Ontario. Of all the cultural industry jobs in Canada, 42.6% of them are in Ontario.
For comparison, here are some examples of industries that contribute less to Ontario’s GDP than cultural industries do: transportation and warehousing ($21.5 billion), utilities ($11.4 billion), accommodation and food services ($10.8 billion), mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction ($6.2 billion), agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting ($4.8 billion). On the other hand the retail trade and construction industries contribute more to Ontario’s GDP than cultural industries, generating $29.5 billion and $37.4 billion respectively.
Of the $53 billion the cultural industries represent in Canada’s GDP, Quebec directly contributed $12.8 billion of that to the GDP. This means that 23.9% of culture contribution to GDP comes from Quebec ($12.8 billion out of $53.4 billion). In comparison, the cultural industries in the province of Quebec generate about half as much as Ontario’s cultural industries. However it is interesting to note that 4.1% of Quebec’s GDP is generated from cultural industries. The national average is 3.4%. This means that with respect to the money generated in Quebec (the provincial GDP), more of that money is generated from cultural industries than in any other province. Not a very surprising fact considering Quebec actively encourages arts as a way to defend their culture. As in Ontario, most of this money is generated in visual and applied arts or audiovisual and interactive media. There are about 174,800 jobs in the cultural industries in Quebec, that is 4.5% of all the jobs available in the province, the same percentage as in Ontario. In other word, 24.7% of all cultural industry jobs in Canada are in Quebec.
For comparison, the industries that contribute less to Quebec’s GDP than cultural industries do are the same as in Ontario: transportation and warehousing ($11.7 billion), utilities ($11.6 billion), accommodation and food services ($6.8 billion), mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction ($4.6 billion), agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting ($4.2 billion). Like in Ontario, the retail trade and construction industries contribute more to Quebec’s GDP than cultural industries, generating $18.1 billion and $21.5 billion respectively.
In conclusion I’m not saying there are not any jobs in the other provinces but these statistics are worth taking a look at if you want to work in the cultural industries, . Even though statistically most sound engineering jobs probably fall in the culture industries category, there are some sound engineering jobs in other industries as well. Keep in mind that these are just statistics and can probably be interpreted different ways depending on who is reading them!
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