Hill Strategies

BC’s Cultural Ecology: Important New Research Findings Now Available


Significant new information and insights into the situation of the arts and culture in British Columbia were made available today by the Alliance for Arts and Culture. A ground breaking series of four arts research projects was conducted for the Alliance by Hill Strategies Research. Three of the four research streams were funded by the Vancouver Foundation.

The information now available (here) includes:

  • A presentation outlining the findings of background research for the projects.
  • A comparison of the finances and government funding of select BC arts organizations with peer organizations in other provinces.
  • Detailed findings of a province wide survey of arts, culture, and heritage organizations.
  • A brief report highlighting findings from qualitative interviews related to human resources, community engagement and impacts, diversity, the entrepreneurial nature of BC arts organizations, and the nature of success for different groups.

Also available is a presentation from November 2015 integrating draft findings from all four research streams.

Some key findings of the research are:

1) Despite recent increases, BC arts organizations are underfunded compared with peers in other provinces.

2) Most BC arts organizations are deeply involved in education.

3) Survey respondents reported total attendance of 4 million (equivalent to 88% of B.C. population), including over 1.5 million free attendees. (This information is based on 118 organizations with attendees.)

4) All BC arts organizations are short of human resources, even the better financed ones. As noted by a survey respondent, “the job is 35 hours a week on paper, but in reality the job is a lifestyle.” That being said, even with limited budgets, investing in human resources is crucial.

5) B.C arts organizations work with and for a range of diverse individuals, groups, and communities. The qualitative interviews showed that there is a recognition of the need within the arts to reflect the interests and perspectives of all members of the community. The survey showed that a majority of BC arts organizations reported having a focus on culturally diverse individuals, and almost 40% reported a focus on Aboriginal people.

6) BC arts organizations primarily serve their municipal areas and broader regions. A significant minority serve the province, Canada, or international areas.

7) BC arts organizations reported a range of benefits in communities:

  • Artistic impacts
  • Stimulating thought
  • Education
  • Fostering creativity

8) Major challenges reported by arts organizations include:

  • Business / individual support
  • Facilities
  • Staff capacity
  • Competition (for time / from other entertainment options)

9) Major strengths reported by arts organizations include:

  • Retaining staff and attracting volunteers
  • Community partnerships
  • Education
  • Getting government support
  • Financial health

10) Some of the key issues anticipated for the near future are:

  • Staff capacity
  • Facilities
  • Finances (earned revenues, general, government support)

For more information on these projects, please contact Rob Gloor, Executive Director of the Alliance for Arts + Culture, Vancouver, 604-681-3535 (ext. 209), rob@allianceforarts.com