What We Measure and Why
A solid cultural inventory provides concrete data that defines what a creative city is and underscores the redeeming and transforming power of the arts, heritage and culture. It is from this premise that work on Edmonton's Cultural Inventory began.
The City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council initiated an application to the Cultural Capitals of Canada Grants Program in 2004. This was not funded and a new, strengthened application was developed through the City Manager's office in collaboration with the Edmonton Arts Council and was submitted in October 2005. After a national competition, Edmonton was awarded the Cultural Capitals of Canada designation for 2007 with a formal presentation at City Hall on 18 December 2006. The presentation was made by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, MP, Minister of the Environment, and Rahim Jaffer, MP, to Mayor Stephen Mandel.
The Cultural Capitals of Canada program had its beginnings on 2 May 2001, when the Government of Canada established a new investment program with the objective to enable communities to:
- invest more in the arts and culture
- improve cultural services and
- promote cultural sharing
The Cultural Capitals of Canada initiative is a part of the Tomorrow Starts Today investment package with the following intent:
Our objective is to promote the arts and culture in Canadian municipalities, through recognition of excellence and support for special activities that celebrate the arts and culture and build a cultural legacy for the community.
The initiative is not only visionary but also practical—the designation involves federal funding of up to 75 percent of project costs with the remainder being provided by the municipality. Edmonton qualified for the Level 1 award of up to $2,000,000 for municipalities with a population of over 125,000.
The cultural inventory component of the project is envisioned as a legacy piece that identifies cultural indicators for the City, does some benchmarking and, together with the cultural planning process, helps to create a blueprint for future development. The intent, once all of the events and performances of the year are over, is to learn from the experience and to build capacity for the future. The Heritage Community Foundation became a project partner at the outset with the responsibility of designing and implementing the City of Edmonton Cultural Inventory.
The Importance of the Arts and Culture to Society
In 20th century western democracies, the role of the arts and culture has continued to be questioned and the movement from representational to non-representational art has led to the perception that art is for elites rather than ordinary citizens
The importance of the arts and culture in societies has varied throughout time. It is clear that ancient civilizations valued works of art and iconic buildings and saw them as defining their value systems and religious traditions. Today, museums and galleries enshrine materials that have survived the ravages of time for public education and appreciation purposes. Artists and creators in such societies were powerful and, while not always loved, they were respected. Their principal patrons were the titled and wealthy, whether the church, monarchs, or aristocrats who commissioned works intended to ensure the survival of their memory and accomplishments for posterity.
With the emergence of the new democratic states in the 18th and 19th centuries, a subtle shift took place in patronage. It was no longer a divine right monarch or other totalitarian leader who commissioned works of art and public buildings but, rather, elected officials and, by extension, the electorate. The democratization of the arts and culture was to have a broad impact and, to a large extent, the value of the artist and creator was devalued. Without the patronage of the wealthy, the image of the impoverished artist in the garret emerged. Artistic production moved from being central to a nation to being one aspect of a whole range of production, driven and directed by market forces.
In 20th century western democracies, the role of the arts and culture has continued to be questioned and the movement from representational to non-representational art has led to the perception that art is for elites rather than ordinary citizens. While governments, whether civic, state/provincial, or national, continued to fund arts and culture, such funding was questioned, and, the latter half of the 20th century saw a movement towards measurement of performance of entities receiving public funding. This has resulted in the emergence of a range of economic impact studies, resulting in movement further and further away from the intrinsic value of the arts as essential to defining the nation, the city or whatever other political grouping of human activity is under scrutiny. All activities receiving both public and private-sector funding increasingly are looked at through a lens of economic determinism. The arts and cultural sector has been no exception.
This is not to say that performance measures, per se, are bad and, in fact, they should be a part of the operations of any healthy and dynamic organization. It is when the value of cultural activity is diminished to simple economic performance, then, its importance in city-building, province-building, or nation-building is neglected or lost.
To be fair, at the same time that we have seen performance measures as a whole being hard-lined, we have also seen thoughtful artists, performers, curators, cultural administrators, and organizations and institutions building the case that the arts, heritage, and culture are essential to individual and community health. Ultimately, all of the stakeholders in the cultural sector—from creators, performers, cultural administrators, curators, programmers, historians, to funders and others—believe that the value of the arts and culture is primarily intrinsic, and that they must continue to be viewed in this way.
The "Creative Cities" movement, which has emphasized the importance of the "creative class" to community building, has given this belief tremendous impetus in the last 10 years. A solid cultural inventory provides concrete data that defines what a creative city is and underscores the redeeming and transforming power of the arts, heritage, and culture. It is from this premise that work on Edmonton's Cultural Inventory began.
There are myriad definitions and differences in the value assigned to the arts and culture—really, as many as there are nations, regions, municipalities or other vehicles for encompassing and regulating human activity.
In order to measure or inventory arts, heritage, and cultural activity, there must be some general agreement on the nature of that activity. Thus, defining the field is crucial. While scientific, technological, and economic activities are readily quantifiable, activities in the humanities are less readily so and raise a number of questions:
- What are the arts and culture?
- Are they linked?
- Is their value intrinsic—about individual and social worth—or extrinsic (e.g., economic)?
- Who funds them—the state? the user? corporations? charities and/or non-profits?
- Who benefits from them—individuals, families, corporations, community organizations, ethnocultural communities?
There are myriad definitions and differences in the value assigned to the arts and culture—really, as many as there are nations, regions, municipalities or other vehicles for encompassing and regulating human activity. Thus, there is no one universally accepted definition or measure. Closely related to defining the field is the equally thorny debate as to the nature of cultural activity to be inventoried. Terminology such as "high" and "low" art, professional and amateur, mainstream and emerging, elitist and popular, state-funded art vs. alternative art presents a range of dualities and implies that choices must be made. This should not be the case—a good cultural inventory should be able to embrace these dualities to arrive at a more holistic view, which is today's norm.
Diversity and pluralism are contemporary values and reflect social, political, and cultural change. Countries primarily populated by one ethnicity and having a state religion are likely uni-cultural. Today, the liberal democracies are more-or-less multi-cultural. The dualities noted above really reflect older ways of thinking and being, and can and do result in tensions. In terms of a cultural inventory, the response to these ways of thinking should not result in a "who is in and who is out" perspective. Gordon and Beilby-Orrin states:
Dick Stanley, referring to cultural citizenship, writes "that arts and heritage participation enhances social understanding, promotes identity formation, modifies values, builds social cohesion and fosters community development and civic participation. These are the mechanisms by which cultural participation provides the models to fashion the individual's public action. An individual's cultural participation influences how she behaves toward others in society, and their cultural participation influences how they treat her. Culture permeates social, economic, and political action.
The first set of activities in the City of Edmonton Cultural Inventory process involved extensive research to:
- Determine the nature of cultural inventories worldwide through a literature search
- Analyze these materials to arrive at commonly-held definitions of cultural indicators
- Establish the specific cultural indicators to be measured and studied
There is no international standard to follow and, therefore, for the City of Edmonton Cultural Inventory to be authoritative and valid, it must be based on best practices. Following is a review of the most current information available on best practices.
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Models
While quantifying social impacts presents a challenge and likely cannot be done through a survey instrument, it is important to undertake research and gather whatever evidence is available, including anecdotal evidence obtained through focus groups, to begin to explore the social impacts of the arts and culture.
The international source with perhaps the greatest recognized authority is that of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The most current UNESCO definition of culture is the following:
… the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs.
It is clear that such an encompassing definition of culture moves away from the narrow scope of artistic activity (i.e., creative activity) focused at the functional level (e.g., literary arts, performing acts) to embrace and involve the entire community (i.e., the public, public and private funders). Thus, the arts are subsumed in culture, which UNESCO and other experts consider the factor that integrates all human activity and links it to the natural world in which we live.
The UNESCO Framework for Culture Statistics was formulated in the period 1972 to 1980. In 1972, European Ministers of Culture met to discuss "the establishment of better and more comprehensive statistics of culture." This work was continued in the 1980s when representatives of over 20 European and North American countries began to meet to discuss methodologies for producing culture statistics. This resulted in the establishment of the Framework for Culture Statistics (FCS) in 1986. The Categories for measurement became:
- Cultural Heritage
- Printed Matter and Literature
- Performing Arts
- Visual Arts (including photography)
- Radio and Television
- Socio-cultural activities
- Sports and Games
- Environment and Nature
The "Functions" measured for each category are as follows:
Another study of significance is that undertaken by John C. Gordon and Helen Beilby-Orrin, "International Measurement of the Economic and Social Importance of Culture" (Paris: Statistics Directorate, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, draft 2006-08-9). This study focuses on a "holistic view of culture, including social and economic aspects and quality of life." Further, it grounds itself in the universality of the UNESCO and European Commission's 'two dimensional framework for assembling measures of culture, one dimension containing cultural domains such as visual arts, film, theatre etc. with the other delineating the processes from creation/production through to consumption/conservation'."
The report is a draft and has been posted on the World Wide Web to solicit expert input. Initial input came at a workshop in December 2006 and will culminate in a follow-up session planned for June 2007 at the OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy, the focus of which is on measuring the progress of societies. The authors ultimately want to establish "a methodology that will produce internationally-comparable measures capable of informing cultural policy formation in OECD countries." Four major themes are being considered for the 2007 World Forum as follows:
- Economic indicators
- the appropriateness of the indicators identified, their relevance to informing policy, their suitability for international comparisons, possible alternative indicators, their reliability/robustness etc.
- Classification standards
- their deficiencies in regards to measuring the culture sector, and the means that can be taken to overcome the problems, including allocation factors, multipliers, and satellite accounts.
- Social Indicators
- the impact of the presence of a healthy and vital culture sector on other areas of society including social cohesiveness/identity, population health, well-being, balance, etc.
- Linkages between a healthy culture sector and a healthy economy
- will an enrichment of the culture sector lead to improvements in well-being an the general economic health of a society; and the inverse, will the deterioration of the culture sector translate into a decrease in well-being and economic performance.
The authors acknowledge that, while the "economic importance" of culture, viewed as economic impact linked to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is an aspect of the quantitative measurement of culture, "the importance of culture goes well beyond its GDP contribution." Canada's Governor-General Michaëlle Jean is quoted in the report expressing "how important creative expression is to the health of a democratic society."
Gordon and Beilby-Orrin note that economic outcomes are not the principal reason for which people become involved in culture. Ironically, these are the indicators that are easiest to measure and quantify. They note that social indicators are more difficult to define and, while there is a substantial body of research in this area:
… definitive choices about what measures should be included are far from evident. The International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), in a report entitled Statistical Indicators for Arts Policy, notes that "there are two main discernable approaches in the research. Some tackle the issue 'top down', by exploring the social impacts of the arts, where 'social' means non-economic impacts, or impacts that relate to social policies. Others approach effects from the bottom up, by exploring individual motivations for and experiences of arts participation, and evaluating the impacts of particular arts programmes.
While quantifying social impacts presents a challenge and likely cannot be done through a survey instrument, it is important to undertake research and gather whatever evidence is available, including anecdotal evidence obtained through focus groups, to begin to explore the social impacts of the arts and culture. The compelling reason to do this is because, as we have seen, the arts and culture are about identity, equity and community involvement. Thus, the cultural inventory must address both quantitative and qualitative measurement of cultural activities.
The Urban Institute's Arts and Culture Indicators Project (ACIP) Model
Cultural vitality is the evidence of creating, disseminating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities.
The Urban Institute, Washington, provides some excellent contextual pieces and survey techniques in a report titled Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators authored by Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, Florence Kabwasa-Green and Joaquin Herranz, PhD. The publication is a part of the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program at the Institute and is dated 2006. The Institute has established a formal Arts and Culture Indicators Project (ACIP) with the intent to help policymakers make better decisions about neighborhoods and cities. Projects have been undertaken in Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia. ACIP bases its work on three premises:
First, we introduce a definition of cultural vitality that included the range of cultural assets and activity people around the country register as significant.
Second, we define cultural vitality as evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities.
Third, we use this definition as a lens through which to clarify our understanding of the data necessary, as well as the more limited data currently available, to document adequately and include arts and culture in more general quality of life indicators. Third, we develop and recommend an initial set of arts and culture indictors derived from nationally available data, and we compare selected metropolitan statistical areas based on the measures we have developed.
The authors note that this broad definition of cultural vitality is threatening to some organizations that have traditionally received funding because it expands the range of stakeholders in the arts. It moves beyond the art experts and professionals. On the other hand, it is attractive to others because it is inclusive:
For example, it enables urban designers and planners to give more consideration to ensuring that communities have community/cultural centers, including facilities for the practice of art, that make possible a wide range of arts engagement. It encourages expansion of the cultural district concept to include more opportunities for amateur as well as professional arts engagement. It compels policymakers, funders, and administrators to think more critically about what aspect of a community's cultural vitality they are contributing. And it enables community members to learn more about the range of cultural activity in their communities and where arts-related investments might best be made.
The authors note that the definition of cultural vitality takes into account terms that are now frequently used by urban planners, community development practitioners, private developers, politicians, policymakers and others. These include "creative economy," "creative class," "creative cities," "cool cities." They also frequently relate to the revival of urban neighborhoods. This thinking has created a window of opportunity for the arts to integrate themselves in a range of community activities. They affirm the importance of this term as follows:
Cultural vitality is the evidence of creating, disseminating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities.
All the materials that we have seen about definitions, indicators, and models for cultural inventorying emphasize the democratization of the arts, and culture. Flagship institutions and organizations will still continue to exist within this model but they are joined by a whole range of organizations and institutions, individual and group activities that are creative at root but are also entrenched in community giving it life and vitality.
The following is a concise description of the three ACIP measurable domains. It can be seen that each has a unique meaning and characteristics as well as a cluster of activities around it that are specific to this model.
- Presence of opportunities to participate
- Wide mix of sponsorship (nonprofit, commercial, public, informal)
- Size of organization (large, medium, small)
- Type of organizations including presenters of professional artwork, artist-focused organizations, organizations that make possible amateur as well as professional arts practice
- "Pillar" organizations that have been active for more than 10 years with the following characteristics:
- Involvement in the development of community-based cultural events
- Relationships with local artists as well as the large cultural venues concerned primarily with the presentation of professional work
- Long-standing connections with local parks, schools, community centers, etc. that sponsor community arts and cultural activities
- Existence of "Cultural Districts" (physical concentrations of arts organizations and arts-related businesses
- Participation in its multiple dimensions
- Multiple participation—as practitioners, teachers, students, critics, supporters, and consumers
- Collective art making frequently found in:
- Community celebrations
- Sustained amateur arts practice
- Public validation and critical discussion of a range of artistic and cultural practices (amateur to professional) in a range of forms such as:
- print and electronic media (including the web)
- arts education (K–12)
- after school arts program
- Support systems for cultural participation
- Public sector
- Commercial sector encouraged through:
- Tax incentives
- Small business loans
- Integration of arts and culture into other public policy priorities such as education and community development
- Networks of strong advocates, especially outside the formal cultural sector
- Critical mass of artists in one place and indicator of level of support available
- Public sector
The authors also move beyond "the traditional arts/culture box (extending the usual nonprofit lens to include commercial and informal sectors) in searching for measures of cultural vitality." To address this, they create a four "tier" schema as follows:
- Tier One
- quantitative data usually collected annually and freely available or at minimal cost (e.g., census data) that is nationally comparable; immediately suitable for development of indicators
- Tier Two
- quantitative data, also free or virtually free but not nationally comparable (e.g., administrative data about parades and festivals collected by police and other city departments, household surveys, funding data collected by arts agencies or foundations); immediately suitable for development of indicators
- Tier Three
- also qualitative but sources restricted in time or sporadic; provides examples of how data could be collected
- Tier Four
- qualitative or pre-qualitative documentation of phenomena of interest (e.g., ethnographic studies of arts and culture in communities); provides rich contextual information about cultural vitality and informs design of quantitative data collection efforts
What is interesting about this model is that data gathering done by existing agencies is used in new ways to identify community cultural vitality, in particular, national data.
In their field research, it is noted that organizations that serve as catalysts for both amateur and professional arts, collaborate extensively with both arts and non-arts organizations. They are also strong believers in the significance of the design of public and other places where arts and cultural activities take place. They note:
Certainly, the design of a space or building that takes into consideration a range of possible cultural uses will involve attention to public access, pedestrian traffic, performance area, lighting, acoustics, inclusion of permanent as well as temporary areas that accommodate a variety of displays, and opportunities for active as well as audience participation in creative activities.
The authors also examine "Indicator-like Initiatives: City Rankings and Arts Sector and Creative Economy Reports." They look at Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers and Money Magazine's Best Places to Live and note that "these typically characterize arts and culture as one among several types of leisure and recreation activity. They focus on mainstream institutions (e.g., symphony, opera, ballet) and measure participation by audience attendance or ticket sales." They note some new types of reports being created by municipalities:
…that specifically seek to assess a city's attractiveness to the "creative class"—urban professionals employed in creative industries (including architects, designers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and computer programmers as well as artists), generally with high incomes and spending power. These draw on Richard Florida's (2002) formula to assess a city's "creative index" and likely appeal to this population. Examples include "cool cities" initiatives in Michigan, the "creative character initiative" in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Fast Company's "fast cities list," which ranks cities domestically and internationally based on the creative class formula.
According to their definitions, these studies are limited as are those that focus on the arts and cultural sectors that inventory only the non-profit or government- and foundation-supported entities.
ACIP has devised a whole series of "phenomena to be tracked" some of which can be derived from other studies-national, state or other. For their top indicator of Presence of Opportunities, they recommended the following Tier One measures:
- Arts establishment per thousand population (CZBP) including both nonprofit and commercial entities;
- Percentage of employment in nonprofit and commercial arts establishments as a proportion of all employment (CZBP);
- Non-profit arts organizations per thousand population (NCCS); and
- Non-profit community celebrations, festivals, fairs and parades per thousand population (NCCS).
Measures for other tiers are also suggested. To implement this kind of comprehensive study that requires review of existing data to mine it for municipally-relevant activities is doable but time consuming. In addition, some surveying would need to be done for community-specific indicators not appearing in national data. The ACIP model is exciting because of its expansive definition of the arts and culture and seeing them as core to culturally vital communities.
Creative City Network of Canada: Intermunicipal Comparative Framework Project
This is another over-arching survey that is of significance for the creation of the City of Edmonton Cultural Inventory. The Canadian survey is linked to the Creative City Network of Canada. The Network is a direct result of Richard Florida's thinking about creative cities capturing the imagination of civic politicians, arts and culture practitioners and others. Just as Jane Jacobs through The Death and Life of Great American Cities awakened a generation to environmental and city planning issues, Richard Florida, more recently, forced us to see cities not only as physical constructs but also imaginative constructs. Another great historian and commentator on cities is Lewis Mumford (The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and its Prospects and other works). Cities change and evolve through time and are complex structures with physical and spatial presence, legal and political dimensions, social and economic dimensions, and cultural dimensions. By focusing on creativity, Florida is linking all of these dimensions to the human spirit and the ability that human beings have to change their world through time. It moves beyond typical notions of infrastructure, which is physical, to suggest that it is the intellectual and spiritual infrastructure that is ultimately more significant. Of course, this is the domain of the arts and culture.
The Creative City Network of Canada focuses attention on those things that cities (civic politicians and civil servants) actually control. Twenty-nine cities are a part of this initiative of which five are Albertan (Banff, Camrose, Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Red Deer). The Phase One Pilot Report is titled Intermunicipal Comparative Framework Project. It was published in 2006 and the data years were 2002-2004. The Analysis/Writing was undertaken by Nancy Duxbury and Anne Russo. Edmonton in October 2007 will be hosting their conference. This is an important lens through which to view the arts and culture though in comparison to The Urban Institute and the OECD models, it is narrower and less-embracing since it does not involve the range of stakeholders. As a sign of the changing civic attitude towards the arts and culture, it is incredibly important. Edmonton's City Council, headed by Mayor Stephen Mandel, supports Creative Cities' goals and Councilor Michael Phair, who is frequently given arts portfolio duties, is involved in this initiative.
The current study was based on the 1996 Municipal Cultural Investment Survey, developed and implemented by Nancy Duxbury for the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) Cultural Plan Committee. It involved 17 of the region's 21 municipalities. With so much competition between neighbouring municipalities and districts and counties, this study was absolutely unique and visionary. The authors note:
The long-term goal of the Framework Project is to have an accessible source of baseline information about municipal planning, policy, programming, and support in municipalities across Canada. Phase One is about designing the structure—the framework—for storing and retrieving this multifaceted body of information. This report summarizes, in tables and commentary, what we learned about municipal involvement in arts, heritage, and culture in 30 municipalities across Canada through a survey initially distributed in 2003.
The study had three phases as follows:
- Phase One: Qualitative Survey - Policies, Plans, Programs and Practices (first distributed in 2003)
- This phase is aimed at understanding the general framework, scope, and nature of local government involvement in cultural development across Canada.
- Phase Two: Quantitative Survey - The Numbers
- This phase will capture the value of local government investment in cultural development across Canada. It will expand the information gathered in Phase One to include the value of direct and indirect support through funding programs, administrative costs, operational expenses, and other mechanisms.
- Phase Three: More details in Selected Topic Areas
- Municipal initiatives of this sort are also a part of the cultural inventory process and what they choose to benchmark and the fact that they are funders of the arts and culture is of enormous significance. The study includes a glossary of terms that is important including a definition of culture as follows:
Includes the performing, visual, literary, and media arts; library, archives, and heritage resources; and socio-cultural activities as practiced and preserved in a community. These practices are multicultural and reflect the beliefs, experiences, and creative aspirations of a people in a specific geographic and political area.
This definition, while lacking a statement of vision, is certainly in keeping with the UNESCO definition and also The Urban Institute's. It also supports the elements to be addressed in a cultural inventory. The following definition is given of the arts:
Includes the visual arts (painting, print-making, drawing, sculpture, crafts, photography, film, and video), theatre, music and song, literary arts, and dance. The arts encompass original, creative interpretation, and facsimile reproduction and distribution.
At the basis is governance and the first section of the report is "General Administration of Culture" and this looks at legislation, policies and plans. In looking at this, the following subject areas (or categories) are discussed based on what the participating municipalities reported as areas in which Legislation, Policy and/or a Cultural Plan/Strategy existed:
- Culture (arts and heritage)
- Heritage Community Foundation Public Art
- Civic Art Collection
- Community Arts
- Festivals & Special Events
- Civic Awards
- Cultural Facilities Development
- Cultural Facilities Support/Use
- Cultural Tourism
- Heritage Tourism
- Heritage Registry and/or Designation
- Cultural Industries
While members of the arts and cultural community frequently express the view that "the City doesn't care or doesn't know about the arts and culture," it is interesting to note the following:
A total of 25 respondents report an Official Community Plan, City Plan, or equivalent that explicitly includes reference to culture, arts, heritage or archaeology … Heritage is identified in an Official Community Plan in 17 municipalities and culture (arts and heritage) in 16. The arts, the more recent focus, appear in an Official Community Plan or its equivalent in 10 municipalities. Policies for archaeology appear in four. Although policies for cultural industries (generally the film industry) are reported in various municipalities, there is no indication that this topic is incorporated yet into any Official Community Plan.
Based on responses to date, municipal legislation is reported in documents as far back as 1965, but there is no indication of cultural topics appearing in an official community Plan or its equivalent before 1990. Only Toronto reports that is has included public art in its recent Official Community Plan.
Other interesting findings relevant to the cultural inventory process include:
- In a limited number of municipalities, a non-profit organization or agency is mandated by Council to manage all or some area of the arts or Heritage
- More frequent is the existence of an organization, not mandated by Council that may take on this role and it may be contracted by Council to do this
- It is noted that these "umbrella" organizations can be useful in planning because they represent a broad array of interests and have citizen involvement
With respect to where in the municipal structure cultural staff work, the response is variable and indicates that a dedicated cultural department is rare:
The survey provided space for reporting up to six different areas in which cultural staff may work. Just under 60% of the 29 respondents indicated that staff with cultural responsibilities worked in either one or two offices, which were identified generally as arts/cultural services or heritage/museum/archives. While two municipalities indicated that staff with cultural responsibilities worked across six different offices or groups, none mentioned that cultural staff in their municipality worked in more than six areas.
In response to the question, "What is the level of cultural staffing in municipalities," it is reported that only three municipalities had over 20 staff (FTEs) and:
Fully 75% of the respondents reported a total of fewer than 10 FTEs performing a wide range of work including running museums, theatres/galleries, arts centres, and other facilities; programming and producing cultural festivals; administering programs; scouting and permitting for a local film industry; managing archives; developing policy and guidelines; administering public art selection processes; running summer arts activities in parks; and much more.
It is clear that there are issues around the nature of arts and cultural activities that are directly administered and run by cities. What should be core cultural activities that are directly operated by the city through general revenues? What is an appropriate level of staffing for such operations? Should there be civic arts, heritage and other cultural staff to liaise with other cultural providers, both non-profit and for profit?
The Creative City Network of Canada survey and report only looks internally at civic cultural activities and staffing but this is only a start. To get a comprehensive image of culture in a community a thorough cultural inventory that complements the civic inventory is required. The latter reveals all of the other arts, heritage and cultural creators found in the non-profit and charitable sector as well as cultural industries, educational institutions and others.