Methodology and data quality

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The Culture Statistics Program has been analysing and presenting data on federal expenditures on culture since fiscal year 1976/1977. Prior to 1984/1985, the data were extracted from the Public Accounts of Canada and thus were not broken down by province. Since the fiscal year 1984/1985, data have been collected by directly surveying the federal departments and agencies and are now broken down by province or territory.

Data on provincial and territorial government expenditures on culture have been gathered since the fiscal year 1981/1982 and data on municipal government culture expenditures since 1984.


The target population for the federal and provincial-territorial surveys consists of all departments, ministries, agencies, commissions, boards, special funds and government business enterprises responsible for the support of arts and culture in Canada. The municipal survey covers all municipalities.

Survey frame

The federal and provincial-territorial data are collected from all known cultural departments, ministries, agencies, commissions, boards, special funds and government business enterprises. The list of these government entities is based on information obtained from the Public Accounts of Canada, provincial public accounts, and other sources such as the "Directory of the Arts". The frame is updated each year.

The municipalities included in the municipal survey are drawn from the census listing of all local governments in Canada. This listing is maintained and updated using information from various sources, including provincial departments of municipal affairs.

Data collection

The federal and provincial-territorial data are collected via mail-back forms sent out in early fall of each year. Federal data are collected by directly surveying the federal departments and agencies, whereas provincial-territorial data are collected through the assistance of a coordinator in each province or territory. Follow-ups are carried out by telephone to those departments and agencies which do not provide the data within sixty days following the receipt of the questionnaire.

The Culture Statistics Program collects municipal data in co-operation with the Public Institutions Division of Statistics Canada, which conducts a sample survey of municipalities.

Data processing

Completed federal and provincial-territorial forms are edited for accuracy and consistency according to pre-established specifications. The Public Accounts of Canada and the provincial-territorial public accounts are also used to check the accuracy of survey results.

Data quality

Federal and provincial-territorial data are collected from all known culture departments and agencies rather than from a sample. Some of the provinces and territories did not provide data on their spending on school, university and college libraries. Statistics Canada estimated these data.

Any inaccuracy in the results is due to non-sampling error. This may occur at any phase of survey preparation and includes coverage errors, non-reporting and partial non-response, response errors and processing errors. The careful design of the questionnaire, the existence of quality control procedures and the monitoring of survey operations help to limit the magnitude of these errors.

For a small percentage (3.2 %) of federal operating expenses in 2008/2009, detailed information on spending by category AND province was not available. Information on the breakdown of operating expenses was available by region (based on the location of regional offices). In this case, the method for estimating provincial breakdown of spending was to allocate to the province where the office was located. Operating expenses were also only available by broad categories of culture activity. Based on this information, spending by province AND category was calculated by applying the provincial breakdown to each culture activity. At the provincial level, therefore, this may result in some over- or under-estimation of actual spending for any given culture activity. The same estimation method was used for the 2003/2004 (revised), 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 data.

The methodology used for the municipal survey involves a sample of about 10% of all municipalities. Since the survey includes all major cities, which account for a significant proportion of the transactions of all municipalities, sampling error is expected to be low.

Operating expenditures include the direct operating program costs of culture departments and ministries, excluding their related corporate costs.

Provincial distribution of federal government data

Operating expenditures of federal departments and agencies are broken down by province or territory according to the location of the department or agency incurring these expenditures.

Federal expenditures related to the purchase of land and construction of buildings are broken down according to their provincial/territorial location. The costs associated with the acquisition of machinery and equipment are distributed according to the provincial/territorial location of the supplier.

Grants, contributions and transfers made by the federal government are distributed according to the permanent residence or location of the recipient.



National Library

A National library is an institution designated as such by the government.

Public libraries

Libraries used by the public, supported chiefly by taxation, and generally governed by a public library board. Public libraries consist of main and branch libraries as well as regional, rural, provincial and urban. Excluded are departmental and agency libraries.

School libraries

Libraries administered as units, each located in one place at least as large as a classroom, and providing books and other library services and materials for the use of all pupils and teachers. Excluded are classroom collections, teachers' collections and book collections located in the school but administered by the public library authority.

University and college libraries

All libraries in university and college institutions, including private colleges, technical institutes and teachers' colleges.


All institutions open to the public for the purpose of conserving, studying, interpreting, assembling and exhibiting objects and specimens of educational and cultural value including artistic, scientific, historical and technological materials. Included in this definition are general museums, history museums, natural science museums, science and technology museums, art museums and galleries (excluding art galleries primarily concerned with temporary exhibits), etc.

Public archives

Institutions designated as public archives by the government.

Historic parks and sites

All parks, sites, monuments and buildings designated as historical by official documentation and/or law, including pioneer villages and heritage areas

Nature/provincial parks

All nature and provincial parks whose purpose is to acquire, preserve, study, interpret, and make accessible to the public, objects, specimens, documents, buildings and land areas of educational and cultural value. Excluded are expenses associated with recreational activities, such as the cost of providing a campground in a park.

Other heritage

All expenses associated with the management of programs to preserve, protect, investigate and interpret archaeological sites, as well as expenses associated with restoring historical buildings or structures of archaeological significance. Also included are other heritage activities, which are not defined above.

Arts education

For the purposes of this survey, arts education refers to the fine, applied and performing arts rather than to strictly academic fields such as language, history, literature, etc. The term "arts", as used here, includes theatre, music, dance, painting, drama, photography and any other area of art study reported by arts education.

Included are expenditures associated with the teaching of the arts both at national schools (such as the National Ballet School in Toronto and the National Theatre School in Montreal) and at arts institutions (such as Holland College of Visual Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Ontario College of Art, Kootenay School of Art, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Mennonite Brethren Bible/Art College and conservatories of music and dramatic arts).

Excluded are expenditures associated with the teaching of the arts at educational institutions (elementary and secondary schools, and college and university institutions).

Literary arts

Included are grants to authors and publishers for the publication of books, periodicals, magazines and newspapers. Also included are financial support for literary seminars, workshops and prizes, as well as subsidies to book stores and distributors. Costs associated with a publication released by a cultural department or agency are included in expenditures for the cultural activity covered in the publication. Expenditures on these publications covering two or more cultural activities are included in the function "Multidisciplinary activities".

Excluded are expenditures on non-cultural government publications. Also excluded is financial support for organizations, which distribute non-literary material, such as agricultural newsletters, etc.

Performing arts

The performing arts include theatre, dance, music and opera. Included are expenditures related to creation, production and performance. Also included is the financial support given to performing arts organizations, associations and groups.

Visual arts and crafts

Activities traditionally labelled "visual arts and crafts" including painting, sculpture, plastic arts, photography, fine and decorative arts, and craft works. Included are expenditures on activities related to the actual creation and production of works of art and crafts. Also included is the financial support given to organizations and institutions for activities related to visual arts and crafts, such as grants to art galleries which hold temporary exhibits or travelling shows of works of art.

Film and video

Activities related to the creation, production and dissemination of films and video. Included is the financial support given to film organizations, associations and societies for these activities. Also included are the funds spent by government on activities related to the production and distribution of films of a cultural nature.

Excluded are expenditures related to government production of non-cultural films, such as educational and promotional films produced for government by private filmmakers. Also excluded are the expenditures of censor boards.


Included are expenditures related to radio and television, including those associated with government broadcasting (e.g., CBC and TV Ontario). Also included is financial assistance to private stations and to institutions (e.g., grants for school broadcasting).

Sound recording

Records, tapes and compact discs of a musical and oral nature. Included are expenditures related to the creation of tapes and records as well as funds for operation of studios and purchase of equipment. Also included are expenditures related to distribution, including subsidies to distributing companies, manufacturers and stores.


Included are expenditures and grants for multiculturalism.

Multidisciplinary activities

Included are expenditures related to numerous cultural activities or functions which cannot be broken down by function. This includes financial support given to cultural facilities, centres, festivals, municipalities, cultural exchange programs and arts organizations for various cultural activities.


Included are general and administration expenditures related to numerous cultural activities, which cannot be allocated to other categories.

Type of expenditure

Wages and salaries

Included are expenditures for wages and salaries for all full-time, part-time, regular, term and casual employees. Also included are the employee benefits paid by the government into social security, pension funds, etc. Excluded are expenses not requiring a cash outlay, such as accrued employee termination benefits and vacation pay.

Purchases of goods and services

Included are expenses associated with the purchase of materials and office supplies, rent, fuel and light, repairs and maintenance, printing, travel expenses, telephone charges, equipment with a normal life of under one year, and purchases of other goods and services (excluding employee services) required for the department or agency to operate. Also included are fees paid to freelancers during the reporting period. Excluded are expenditures not requiring a cash outlay, such as depreciation and amortization expenses, and imputed costs of accommodation provided without charge by departments and agencies.

Operating expenditures

Included is the sum of the amounts listed above (wages and salaries and purchases of goods and services).

Capital expenditures

Included are expenditures on goods with a normal life of more than one year, expenses associated with the construction and acquisition of land, buildings, machinery and equipment, and expenses associated with extraordinary building repairs.

Operating grants, contributions and transfers

Included is financial assistance, which is not for capital development or acquisition.

Capital grants, contributions and transfers

Included are grants and transfers made to finance the acquisition of capital assets.