Cultural HR Study 2010: HR Trends and Issues Report
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December 2010 - The report identifies key trends and issues regarding human resources in Canada’s cultural sector and provides recommendations for addressing human resource challenges. Prepared for the Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) by the Conference Board of Canada, the report “is intended to provide a starting point for discussion and action across Canada on how to strengthen the fabric of our society by enriching the workforce of the cultural sector”.

Based on a literature review, 39 key informant interviews, 15 focus group sessions and an online survey (completed by 2,698 cultural workers and employers), the report indicates that “forces such as new technologies, an aging workforce and changing economic conditions are pushing many cultural employers and workers to do more with less and to struggle to survive”.

Survey respondents identified four key environmental trends that might affect the sector: changes in government spending, changes in government policy, technological changes and the recession. A number of other environmental issues, while still important, were ranked somewhat lower by respondents, including adapting to new markets, intellectual property, changing consumer tastes or expectations, and changes in private sector funding.

Cultural employers ranked two issues stronger than all others: 1) dependence on government funding; and 2) the public perception of culture as a non-essential good or service. Cultural workers provided a fairly high ranking for 10 different trends and issues. The four that received the highest rankings were insufficient earnings, the need to multitask, insufficient benefits and unstable earnings.

Within this context, key human resource issues include heavy workloads, low compensation and limited job security. The report finds that “the cultural workforce is one motivated primarily by internal self-interest in the work, rather than any expected external reward”. However, “the cultural sector struggles with ‘bleeding talent’ to other sectors due to the low pay, low job security, and lack of career development opportunities”.

Common skills gaps among cultural workers include entrepreneurship, management, marketing, communications and negotiation skills. Interestingly, nearly one-half of employees in the cultural sector (44%) indicated that their managers have a great need for managerial skills development.

The report provides a series of recommendations to improve the state of human resources in the cultural sector. Among other items, the sector-wide recommendations argue for:

* The development of sector-wide collaborative models, projects and networking regarding “content creation, new business models, interaction between industry and education, and new research”.
* More training opportunities for cultural managers.
* More training in export marketing, copyright, intellectual property and negotiation skills.
* Career management support for self-employed workers.
* More mentorships, internships and on-the-job training opportunities.
* Multi-faceted research into at-risk art forms and ethno-cultural traditions, labour market information, the role of volunteers, as well as new demographics and audiences.
* More information and skills development regarding the use of digital technology and the development of business models that are adapted to recent changes in digital technology.

The report discusses specific trends and issues in eight cultural subsectors: broadcasting, film and television production, heritage, live performing arts, music and sound recording, digital media, visual arts and crafts, as well as writing and publishing. Forty-seven additional recommendations pertain specifically to these subsectors. These recommendations are grouped under headings related to training and professional development, mentorship and internship, research, digital technology and human resource management.

Read the full report on the CHRS website