Facts on Dance: Then and Now – and Now What?
The Growth of Dance in Canada Over Three Decades
(Prepared for the Canada Council for the Arts, April 2004, T.J. Cheney Research Inc.)
1. Dance Then and Now …. HIGHLIGHTS
Did you know that…?
- over 1.5 million Canadian adults go to dance performances - representing dance attendance of over 2.5 million
- attendance at dance performances grew strongly in the 1990s
- the number of people making a living from dancing has grown from under 400 in 1971 to over 6,000 in 2001
- the number of not-for-profit professional dance companies identified by Statistics Canada has grown from 5 to nearly one hundred from the 1970s to 2000. The number of performances presented increased from 569 in 1975 to over 2,200 at the end of the century
- total revenues for these companies grew from $5.8 million in 1973 to $65 million in 2000
- community and amateur dance troupes number in the thousands
- over 1 million Canadians adults take dance classes or perform dance themselves in their communities
- through its innovative and hybrid styles drawn from around the world, dance exemplifies the pluralistic and open attributes which are key features of Canadian society
2. Dance AUDIENCES Then and Now
- In the 1970s 1 million adults reported that they had attended a dance performance. Over one-quarter of a million indicated taking ballet classes.
- In 1998 about 1.6 million adults (6.8%) reported going to a dance performance. For 1998, the total attendance they represented was over 2.5 million (ie, the participants each went more than once).
- Reported attendance at dance performances was one of few cultural activities to record growth from 1992 to 1998.
- The total attendance at dance performances reported by Canadians has increased over 30 years, while attendance at dance performances by companies surveyed by Statistics Canada has fluctuated but been relatively constant. This implies that there is an increasing audience for forms of dance not surveyed by Statistics Canada.
- The likelihood of attending cultural events is associated both with higher levels of education and increasing age. Changes in the Canadian population over the past 30 years have seen a shift towards both of these demographic factors as the highly educated ‘baby boom’ ages –promising an increasing dance audience.
- The likelihood of attending dance events is highest among those between 45 and 54 years old, at 9% (but 6% or less of those over 55). Adults under 25 attend at a rate of 8%, with 10% of 18-19 year olds attending. Taking into account their frequency of attendance, people over 45 account for half of all paid admissions.
- In terms of education, those with post secondary education attend at a rate of 13% (nearly twice the overall average of 6%), a rate consistent across all age groups, implying that as the education levels continue to increase, the potential audience for dance should also increase.
3. DANCERS Then and Now
- The number of people earning a living in Canada from dance as dancers or dance teachers grew from 400 in 1971 to 6,400 in 2001, while performing dancers (vs. teachers) numbered 2,400 in 2001.
- The number of dancers nearly tripled during the 1970s, then increased by a further 40% in the 1980s, and by a further 70% in the 1990s, making dance the second fastest growing arts occupation in the 1990s. Dance has significantly exceeded the growth of the labour force as a whole over this 30 year period.
- Throughout all three decades, dancers have earned the lowest incomes of culture workers. Their earnings are among the lowest incomes of all workers, comprising less than two-thirds of the average Canadian income, and ranking among the bottom 5% of all occupations.
- Dancers are distinguished by their age, education, and gender. They are younger than the labour force, reflecting the physical demands of the profession: in 2001, 80% were under 45, (compared to 65% in the labour force), but significantly, 63% of the dancers were under 35 as opposed to 38% of the total labour force. There were twice as many dancers under the age of 25 in 2001 than there were in 1991, and since 1996 there have been more dancers in this age group than there are aged 25-34 .
- 85% of dancers are women (compared to 47% in the labour force); and while having lower levels of education than the labour force in the past (dancers typically pursue specialized non-formal education routes), they increasingly match that profile. Still they have less formal education than the culture labour force overall. Just under 10% of dancers identify themselves with visible minorities (versus 12% in the labour force as a whole).
- Dancers are at least three times as likely as the labour force to be self-employed, a rate similar to actors.
- Dance is the arts occupation whose workers are most likely to cite not getting the training they want (about 40%). For most cost is the largest barrier, and is more important for this group than for other culture occupations.
4. Not-for-profit Dance COMPANIES Then and Now
- Professional dance companies identified in the 1970s were an exclusive group, typically composed of large ballet companies. The 5 companies surveyed by Statistics Canada in the early 1970s numbered over 30 in the early 1980s, over 50 in the early 1990s and between 80 and 90 in the late 1990s. Most of this growth has been with small and medium sized companies (budgets under $800,000). Theatres grew from 30 to 330 over this period – about half the rate of growth of dance companies.
- Many emerging and ‘micro’ companies are missing in these figures, companies which represent new dance styles and express diverse and Aboriginal cultures (the latter numbering over 150 companies).
- The revenues of dance companies rose from $5.8 million in 1973 to $21.8 million in 1983 to nearly $50 million in 1993 and $65 million in 2000. In comparison, theatre revenues increased from $14 million in 1973 to $282 million for 2000, twice the relative increase of dance (although most of this was achieved in the 1970s).
- In 1972-73, the Canada Council funded 7 companies. In comparison, a total of 156 companies applied for funds in 2002-03.
- The proportion of federal funding (Canada Council, Department of Canadian Heritage, etc.) supporting these companies was 22% in the early 1970s, dropping to 17-19% in the latter half of the 1990s. Public funding for dance companies has made up a larger proportion of revenue than that for theatre companies (about 40% or more versus 30% or more from all public sources), reflecting that a larger proportion of time is needed for preparation versus (income earning) performance (80% for dance versus 50% for theatre). There are also constraints in generating revenues due to the lack of venues and facilities for dance performance in Canada.
- Attendance reported by dance companies has fluctuated between 700,000 and 1.8 million over the three decades, being at its lowest in the late 1970s and peaking in 1988. In general, it has been in the area of 1.0 to 1.3 million and was 1.2 million for 2000 after showing steady growth through the 1990s (from 1.1 million to 1.5 million in 1998). Meanwhile, attendance for live theatre increased from 3 million to 9 million over the thirty year period.
5. Dance in the COMMUNITY Then and Now
- Dance plays many roles in a community including recreational, educational, personal development and community building roles. Little of this has been documented but some indicators include:
- 5.5% of adults, or over 1 million people, report taking dance instruction or participating in a dance activity (nearly twice as many as are involved with acting); personal participation in dance, as with most cultural activities, has grown strongly since the 1970s.
- The visibility of dance companies as institutions in the community is restricted by the low proportion of dance companies that own their own facility (5% versus 20% for theatre companies). They are ‘temporary occupants’ for performances 40% of the time (versus 20% for music, and 30% for theatre).
- A study from the early 1980s identified over 600 culturally diverse dance groups among 3,000 performing arts groups, while another 1,200 of the total number of groups noted some dance component. These groups had 175,000 participants and presented 1,000 performances outside Canada.
- Dance in Aboriginal communities plays a key role in involving elders, adults and youth and fulfills educational, social and ceremonial roles.
- A study on the use of cultural facilities carried out in the late 1970s by Statistics Canada found that nearly 8% of all performances put on in locations such as high schools and community centres were dance groups (9% were music companies, 13% theatre companies).
- Professional dance companies conduct a higher percentage of their performances on tour (40%) than other performing arts companies (eg, less than 30% for theatre) because there are often limited opportunities in the home market.
- Dance for children is often considered part of physical fitness in provincial school curricula.
6. Canadian Dance INTERNATIONALLY
- Canadian artists and dance companies both new and established such as Les Ballets jazz de Montréal, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, La La La Human Steps, Margie Gillis Foundation, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Toronto Dance Theatre, and O Vertigo, as well as groups such as Sarah Chase Dance Stories, Tribal Crackling Wind, Co. ERASGA, Compagnie FLAK, and Kaeja d’Dance – are invited to perform regularly in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America as well as in the United States.
- Dance companies and dancers have been appointed as Canada’s cultural ambassadors in the past, and have won major international awards, such as the Bessies (presented for arts accomplishment in New York City) and major international ballet competitions.
- Touring abroad represents about one-half of all touring performances by dance companies funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
- Revenues from touring abroad represent about 20% of all earned revenues for dance, versus only 7% for theatre (although theatre has been growing faster in this area than dance in the 1990s).
- Dance troupes performing abroad increasingly represent Canada’s intrinsic cultural mosaic through a broad range of styles. Such tours also present significant exposure opportunities for Aboriginal performers.
7. Dance: WHAT HAS CHANGED?
- In the face of an aging population, which should mean fewer dancers and increasing audiences, the data imply that there are in fact (i) more dancers and more dance companies, but (ii) relatively smaller audiences - although recent data suggest the dance audience is again growing. Dance is growing, yet struggling.
- Many young people have entered dance careers and those under 25 now dominate the profession.
Will they be successful and still be dancers in 2011?
- While the numbers for dance companies have been increasing in terms of Statistics Canada and Canada Council data, they have not been doing as well as other areas such as theatre: dance is growing, but losing ground to theatre.
- The proportion of people who attend dance performances and the proportion who take dance classes are similar, suggesting a need to reach audiences beyond those directly involved with dance: dance is growing, but not gaining new audiences.
- The dance infrastructure has expanded over thirty years, but dancers’ incomes remain poor.
- Dance is being nurtured among both Aboriginal groups and recent immigrants, for whom dance may be a more important part of their cultural life.
Thus, there has been growth over 30 years, but
- audiences for established professional companies have seen little substantial growth
- the growth among dance organizations does not match that for theatre
- an increasing recognition of the variety of dance forms is changing the way the public sees ‘dance’
- and data is unavailable on a wide range of dance activity, which limits the capacity to manage the sector
7. Dance RESEARCH What Needs to be Done?
- The data available on dance are limited, as is the recognition of dance in most culture studies: many surveys do not ask dance specific questions, or if they do, do not release dance specific data. The 1971, 1972 and 1978 national surveys of cultural attendance by Canadians did not distinguish ‘dance’ as a category. HRDC’s “Job Futures” web site does not identify dance as a career option, and the Department of Foreign Affairs does not cite dance “success stories.”
- Many forms of dance including Aboriginal dance as well as experimental and folk dance have no ongoing data collected, and have received limited or no one-time studies as of yet.
- The role of dancers in commercial functions is unknown (commercial shows, circuses, advertising, film) as is their role outside professional performances (eg, leading dance activities at community centres).
- The presence of dance in the community can only be estimated from general leisure time use studies: the last was conducted in 1998 and none is currently being planned. Information on dance festivals is anecdotal.
- The role of dance in the education system or in the lives of children is unknown, though dance forms part of the curriculum in several provinces, and dance has a role in learning and in therapy.
- The presence of dance in the context of societal change, especially the impacts of technology but also new audiences (more diverse, more educated), on creating, producing, distributing and ‘consuming’ dance is unknown.
- Thus, there is limited research evidence on dance – then, and now.
 Statistics Canada, Performing Arts Survey. This survey covers not-for-profit professional performing arts companies only, and was originally based on companies receiving Canada Council support, and which operated year-round.
 From approximately 1.1 million in 1993 to 1.5 million in 1998 (Statistics Canada survey of performing arts). The numbers dropped for the 2000 survey results.
 Drawn from the Census. Over the years the jobs classified as dancers has changed, most significantly in 1991 when people earning a living from dance was adopted, thereby including people who teach dance. Nonetheless the number of dancers has still increased dramatically, to over 3,000. The Census as a source of information on artists is limited by the fact that people’s occupation is determined by what they were doing (most) the week before the Census. People trying to make a living as dancers may, for example, have been waitresses the week before the survey and will not appear in the Census figures. The Statistics Canada Cultural Labour Force Survey from the early 1990s is a better general, but dated source of specific characteristics.
 See footnote 1.
 These figures compare to $14 million for 29 theatres in 1973 and $282 million for 330 theatres in 2000: a growth ratio of 11 for dance revenues, and of 20 for theatre companies.
 Data on dance activities outside the scope of the Statistics Canada surveys is extremely limited. This estimate is based on data from the early 1980s, “Multicultural Performing Arts Groups in Canada.”
 Derived from “Patterns in Culture Consumption and Participation” by Lucie Ogrodnick, Statistics Canada. Available through the Canada Council for the Arts web site.
 See Dance on Tour, Introduction. Canada Council for the Arts: n.d.
 A Leisure Study – Canada 1975. The ballet class participation figures reinforces the assessment that many who attend dance performances, take dance themselves.
 The related data for 1992 were 5% and 1 million people, suggesting a ‘surge’ of interest in the 1990s, although figures for dance attendance have varied up and down over the past 30 years.
 Dance attendance within children’s performances, festivals or cultural/heritage performances is not included. Nor is attendance by anyone under 15 – unlike attendance data reported by dance companies.
 The fluctuating levels of dance attendance is highlighted in a note in Voice of Dance which cites “Americans who despair of shrinking dance audiences…look across the pond with envy…matters aren’t so rosy [there] either.” First Position, Allan Ulrich. July, 2003.
 Cf “The Changing Education Profile of Canadians, 1961 to 2000,” by G. Picot (Statistics Canada) pp57 and following.
 These growth rates are adjusted for changes in coding over the 30 years: comparisons using published numbers would be higher.
 Incomes of individuals depend on a number of factors including education, age, experience, and the availability of full-time work. These features influence the average income of all dancers: dancers reporting full-time work have incomes near the national average.
 The recent data reflects a relatively older dancer group than previous decades due to the inclusion of dance teachers in 1991 (eg, 95% were under 45 in the 1980s compared to the 70% figure found for 2001).
 The percentage of women has been consistently around 80% for twenty years, although it was only 76% in 1986.
 This figure is similar for actors, painters and writers.
 These figure are predominantly derived from the Statistics Canada Survey of the Performing Arts.
 “Findings From the Survey of Aboriginal Dance Groups and Artists in Canada,” (prepared for the Canada Council for the Arts).
 Sources for these comparisons are the series of leisure time-use surveys carried out by Statistics Canada in the 1970s (with Secretary of State funding and commissioned analytic reports) and components of the Statistics Canada General Social Survey beginning in the 1990s (especially 1992 and 1998).
 “Managing Our Performance Spaces,” prepared for the Canada Council for the Arts by Louise Poulin.
 “Multicultural Performing Arts Groups in Canada,” prepared for the Secretary of State.
 Cf the “National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth” conducted by Statistics Canada.
Dance in Numbers Then and Now