We have been dedicated to using research to gain evidence-based knowledge about our sector for a number of years. Data from our own studies as well as external projects build our knowledge and guide our decisions.

Calgary Arts Development is seen as an arts research leader in Canada. Our research activities increase our capacity as a knowledge hub and improve our ability to be a strategic advisor to City Council.


Research projects in 2021 included the following:

Future of Calgary’s Live Experience Economy (Waves 1-3 June 25, August 24, November 20, 2020; Waves 4 and 5 January 29 and April 22, 2021) Calgary Arts Development is one of the sponsors of a longitudinal study Stone-Olafson is undertaking to measure the public’s attitudes toward live experiences. It has been extremely helpful in gauging the public’s concerns as well as their motivations, behaviours, and pent-up desire to return to in-person gatherings. The learnings from this work will help guide arts organizations as they plan for re-opening.


In 2021 we published our latest Arts Professionals Survey, which was in field in 2020. The report describes a bleak environment for arts professionals in our city. Arts professionals are struggling financially, more than ever. In the past, most survey respondents reported earning low individual and household incomes but never at levels now being reported. 57% of arts professionals reported earning an income under $35,000 per year, much lower than the Calgary average of $60,244. And 75% of family incomes fell below the Calgary median, a continuing decrease in household income for those working in the arts.


Another consequence of the lack of work opportunities in our sector due to COVID has been that arts professionals are questioning whether Calgary is a good place to live. In 2017, 57% agreed that Calgary was a good place to be an artist, but in this recent survey that number dropped by almost half with now only 30% of arts professionals agreeing that Calgary is a good place to be an artist. And only 31% of respondents felt that Calgary was supportive of their work. 


In 2021 Calgary Arts Development, with support from DataArts, completed the second demographic profile of the non-profit organizations supported through the operating grant program. The report is an update on the 2017 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) survey. The survey focused on the demographics of the arts sector, including artists, administrators, and volunteers. The full report will be available in 2022 once related 2021 Statistics Canada census data is available for comparison.


In 2020 our Research and Policy Manager Gregory Burbidge completed his term as Chair of the Cultural Research Network, an international resource-sharing community of practice for people involved in arts and culture related research. With over 1,000 members from around the globe, the network is a collaborative platform that provides opportunities to explore project or professional connections, methodological challenges, technological innovations, standards and practices, and shared infrastructure.