Spending on the arts in Canada – musical instrument purchases down 16%

Looking at this report from Hill Research over my morning coffee, I am struck by a couple of items that kind of leap off the page at me that seem to be of great importance, especially those of us in the business of music education.

Between 1997 and 2008, consumer spending on art works and events grew by 59%, more than any other category of cultural spending. Some individual cultural items saw a substantial increase in spending between 1997 and 2008 (all figures adjusted for inflation):

  • Televisions, DVD players, digital video recorders, and other TV or video components: 124% increase.
  • Works of art, carvings and other decorative ware: 107% increase.
  • Live performing arts: 50% increase.
  •  Books (excluding school books): 24% increase.
  • Admissions to museums and heritage-related activities: 21% increase.
  • Movie theatre admissions: 21% increase.

Spending on newspapers, magazines and periodicals decreased between 1997 and 2008, after adjusting for inflation: newspapers saw a 26% decrease, while magazines and periodicals saw a 28% decline.

Ok, so they are including TV, DVD and other electronic toys in this study, and no surprise that tech spending has seen an increase of 124%.

Live performing arts: 50% increase (Yes!!), and theatre admissions are up.
Print media is in serious decline, but I don’t think that is a big surprise to anyone .

But let’s look at spending on Arts education, and musical instruments and lessons: (bold and italic markings are mine)

  • Spending on reading material declined by 1%. Spending on reading material was at its lowest level in 2008 ($4.8 billion). Spending on reading material was highest in 2002, 2004 and 2005 ($5.1 billion in each of these years) but subsequently decreased to reach $4.8 billion in 2008.
  • Spending on art supplies and musical instruments decreased by 1%. Spending on art supplies and musical instruments decreased in the late 1990s and experienced its lowest spending level in 1999 ($980 million). Spending increased slightly in subsequent years to peak at $1.3 billion in 2004, and spending reached this level again in 2006. Spending on art supplies and musical instruments subsequently declined, reaching $1.1 billion in 2008.
  • Spending on photographic equipment and services decreased by 2%. Spending on photographic equipment and services peaked at $2.4 billion in 2004 but subsequently decreased to reach $1.8 billion in 2008.

If we look further in the report  we see:

Many cultural categories saw a decrease in consumer spending between 2006 and 2008, possibly due to consumers reining in discretionary spending during the recent recession in Canada. Consumer spending on culture decreased by 4% between 2006 and 2008, while overall consumer spending increased by 4%. Among the cultural categories:

  • Consumer spending on home entertainment increased by 1%.
  •  Spending on reading material decreased by 5%.
  • Consumer spending on movie theatre admissions decreased by 6%.
  • Spending on art works and events decreased by 8%.
  • Consumer spending on art supplies and musical instruments decreased by 16%.
  • Spending on photographic equipment and services decreased by 23%.

A 16% decline in musical instrument purchase needless to say is huge.  So am I correct to perceive that money once being spent on the arts on things like books, art supplies, musical instruments – items necessary for artistic creation;  are now being spent on consumer products, mainly electronic gadgets, flat screen TV’s and video consoles?

Is “Guitar Hero” replacing purchasing and  learning the real instrument?

Thoughts and comments?

 Report from Hill Institute for the Arts

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