Counting on Culture: Impacts and Indicators in Ottawa

We are pleased to present the first edition of the Counting on Culture: Impacts and Indicators in Ottawa, a set of culture indicators intended to provide a window on cultural activity in Ottawa.

Community organizations and governments alike have long recognized the need for comprehensive, consistent, and reliable culture data collection and regular reporting of culture indicators. In May 2016, the Ottawa Culture Research Group (OCRG) was created as an informal collaboration of community, academic, and government partners working together to share culture data and research and to develop culture indicators. This report is the result of that collaboration.

The mandate of the OCRG is centred on the sharing and analysis of reliable data and information about the state of Ottawa’s culture sector. ‘Culture’ is a complicated concept, which encompasses a broad range of meanings. The indicators in this report generally adhere to the Conceptual Framework for Culture Statistics. The culture sector consists of the people and organizations whose work fall within this framework.

The report provides insight on various aspects of culture in Ottawa – some of which have never before been profiled. It examines four key types of indicators: support, presence, participation, and impact. Data from all levels of government, as well as from the sector itself, provide a better understanding of key aspects of the indicators that are included in this report. Ultimately, the purpose of this initiative is to provide culture organizations, leaders, and policy makers with better information for more effective cultural planning, evaluation, development, priority setting, resource allocation, and decision-making, contributing to a more effective culture sector. 

Download the Executive Summary



The Support chapter looks at government grants to the culture sector. At the national level, it compares grants received in Ottawa from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage with other major Canadian cities. Where possible, this information is broken down by discipline.

Download the Support Section 


The Presence chapter examines the presence of culture resources in Ottawa, providing answers as to how many culture organizations and businesses are located in Ottawa, the employment they provide and their specific location within the city. It also explores how many events and festivals take place in Ottawa each year, the number of buildings, sites, and areas with heritage designations, as well as the number of performance venues.

Download the Presence Section


The Participation chapter profiles not only the total number of people working in culture industries in Ottawa but also the cultural disciplines in which they work and their location of work within the city. This section also provides information on the diversity of workers in culture occupations in Ottawa, as compared to the diversity of the overall workforce in the City and the diversity of the culture workforce in other major Canadian cities.

Download the Participation Section  


The final chapter of this report discusses some of the impactsof culture in Ottawa. It shows the average employment income of people working in culture occupations and compares it with the average culture employment income in other major Canadian cities. The report shows, for the first time, culture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ottawa. It also includes a case study of the benefits provided by one segment of Ottawa’s culture sector – public libraries.

Download the Impact Section


As a first effort, we are aware that there are gaps in these indicators. For example, there is not yet clear data around the social impact of culture in Ottawa, something that would greatly benefit from further research. Nevertheless, we hope that this report will still be useful to those who work in Ottawa’s culture sector, those who provide support to it, and those who want to know more about Ottawa’s cultural “story”. We learned a lot as we put this report together, and we hope that you will too.


Co-chairs of the Ottawa Culture Research Group:

Diana Carter
Executive Director
Ottawa Museum Network

M. Sharon Jeannotte
Senior Fellow, Centre on Governance
University of Ottawa



This project was funded in part by a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation.