Statistical profile of Montréal artists in 2021 released


March 5 2024


The Conseil


Press Release

8% of Montréal’s workforce in cultural occupations: 20,900 artists and 91,000 cultural workers


Montréal is a city of choice for the Quebec arts community, with nearly half (48%), or 20,900 professional artists, working there. Their employment income, however, is much lower than that of other workers on the Island of Montréal. Artists had a median employment income of $17,400 in 2020, which represents half of the median employment income of all other workers on the Island ($35,600). 

This reality was revealed in the most recent statistical profile of Montréal artists, commissioned by the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Produced by Hill Strategies, this profile is based on data from the last federal census, conducted in 2021. 

Professional artists1 represent 1.8% of the Montréal workforce, well above the averages in Quebec (0.9%) and all of Canada (1.0%). More broadly, the 91,000 workers in the arts, culture and heritage sector account for 8% of Montréal’s workforce (1,148,000 people), nearly double the Quebec (4.8%) and Canadian (4.4%) averages.  

“Montréal stands out by the number of artists who choose to live and create here,” says Nathalie Maillé, Executive Director of the Conseil des arts de Montréal. “The fact that one in 13 workers occupies a cultural profession represents a rich source of creativity for our city. Nevertheless, artists are still living in precarious conditions. It is our collective responsibility to better support our artists to maximize the positive impacts of their invaluable contribution to our community. 

Some highlights 

  • Adding other sources of income to artists’ employment income (including financial assistance paid during the pandemic), saw the median personal income of artists increase to $35,600, which is 21% less than the Montréal workforce ($44,800). 
  • More than 6 out of 10 professional artists work independently, which is five times more than for all other Montréal workers (14%). 
  • Among Montréal artists, 55% have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 44% for all other Montréal workers. 
  • 15% of artists come from racialized groups, much less than the percentage of all other Montréal workers (37%). 


See the full study here: Statistical profile of the 20,900 professional artists on the Island of Montréal. 


Methodology and professional categories 

The overall portrait includes workers from different sectors of the economy who can be classified into one of 10 artist occupation groups, one of 5 arts leadership occupation groups, or one of 52 cultural occupational groups. 

The analysis by Kelly Hill, President of Hill Strategies, focuses on median income rather than average income to provide a more representative view of the artists’ situation. The average may in fact be influenced by a minority of people with exceptionally high incomes. It should be noted that income data from the 2021 census refer to the calendar year 2020, which was marked by several lockdowns and a general decrease in artistic activity due to the pandemic.