artists in small towns
Hill Strategies Research sends reports every so often on the status of the arts and artists in Canada: how many are there, where do they live, how much do they make. Always the results are surprising and seem to confound general expectations.
The study that came out today is about how many of our artists live in small and rural towns: as many as in Toronto and Montréal combined. Vancouver, with the highest concentration of artists (2.35%) of the large cities, would rank only 21st among small municipalities. Previous Hill Strategies studies have pointed out the sub-poverty income levels of Canadian artists, so this might have something to do with where they live.
47% of all Canada's artisans and craftspersons live in small towns, 35% of our visual artists do. Cape Dorset is the centre of Inuit carving and printmaking. West Bolton is in the Eastern Townships with 10% of its labour force in arts occupations. Denman and Hornby Islands off the east coast of Vancouver Island have been intense centres of island crafts, arts and music since the 1960s.
Lou Lynn, of Monday's post, lives in Winlaw, BC in the quite remote Slocan Valley. The work isn't all rural wood carving and fiddle music, it is as sophisticated as the work seen in urban centres.
Since the Massey Report of 1949-51, the arts have been seen as the way to confirm and support the development of an independent Canadian identity. It is surprising that so much of that identity is still investigated, and developed, in rural Canada.