By Nik Ives-Allison

On November 22, the Ottawa Culture Research Group, of which the Ottawa Music Industry is proud to be a part, released its first major report on the economic contribution and health of culture in Ottawa in its Counting on Culture Symposium at the University of Ottawa. The good (fantastic) news: the cultural GDP of Ottawa is $3.4 billion.

That’s right, in 2016 alone (the most recent year for which data is available) culture contributed $3.4 billion to the local economy, according to Statistics Canada!

While it’s not yet possible to break down that contribution by discipline, when so many of our major cultural institutions have music either at their core or are a key part of what they do, it’s safe to reason that music makes a significant contribution to this figure.

Although cultural worker incomes in Ottawa haven’t grown as much in other Canadian cities, since 2006, they remain among the highest paid in the country sitting at an average of $66,717 in 2016. Ottawa has seen the largest growth in the country in terms of the number of indigenous-identifying people in cultural occupations (though the starting number was nothing to write home about).

As strong as this number is, some of the other data is more alarming. When it comes to federal support for Ottawa-based arts and culture from the Canada Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, per capita funding is among the lowest in Canada only consistently surpassing Calgary and Edmonton and occasionally surpassing Quebec City.

Recent immigrants are not engaged in the cultural industries to the extent that they either should be or need to be for a vibrant sector.

Yet, knowing what’s going wrong is the first step, and a necessary one, towards getting better. This is the power of data—it’s able to hold a spotlight up to the pain points so that we can correct, amend and move forward more successfully.