Posthaste: Canada’s arts and entertainment sectors left reeling from pandemic’s massive financial hit

A new StatsCan report reveals the extent of the damage

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A new report paints a grim picture of the pandemic’s toll on Canada’s beleaguered cultural and recreational sectors, reporting these industries have suffered “massive” financial hits during the pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada, every industry within the sector saw a decline in operating revenue in 2020, with the exception of sound recording. The highly in-person nature of the sector — which includes performing arts, amusement parks, movie exhibitors and distributors and book and newspaper publishers — contributed to its funding woes, with venue closures, event cancellations and operating restrictions cited as major stressors.

Despite government assistance, StatsCan said salary, wage, commission and benefits expenses fell in all industries.

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The report highlighted particularly significant revenue declines in the film and TV exhibition industry, of 69.2 per cent, due to movie theatre closures and entirely or partially digital film festivals. Salary and benefits expenses also dropped 62 per cent. While film releases were delayed and film and television production temporarily halted during parts of the pandemic, Canadian film and video distributors and the post-production industry saw more modest operating revenue declines, of 15.2 per cent and 13.4 per cent, respectively.

Book publishers experienced a 5.5 per cent revenue decline, attributed to supply and distribution challenges and delayed or cancelled book launches and writers’ tours.

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One bright spot was the sound recording industry, which isn’t reliant on in-person events and benefits from Canadians’ use of music streaming services on cell phones and other mobile devices. With the exception of sound recording studios, the industry experienced modest growth in 2020 and only small declines in salary and benefits costs.

The arts and recreation sector, which encompasses large live events including theatre and dance performances, concerts and sports events, suffered staggering revenue declines in 2020, of between 43 and almost 68 per cent.

However, the industry suffered a smaller labour force reduction, thanks to government support programs — more than half of businesses in the sector received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy — and grant and funding opportunities.

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Just the amusement and recreation industry — including golf courses, country clubs, marina, ski hills and recreational sports centres — fared better, with only a 27.7 per cent revenue hit and a 23 per cent reduction in workers.

Cultural sector businesses’ ability to adopt digital technologies allowed them to take a new approach to cultural creation, distribution and audience accessibility and engagement, the agency said, which “alleviated some financial pressures and staffing issues.” The digital transformation has already been well underway for years, from video and music streaming services to online book purchases.

But, the agency said, while technology may have expanded outreach during the pandemic, it didn’t always translate into revenue.

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That was especially true for arts and recreation, StatsCan said. “While some businesses were able to operate in innovative alternative ways by operating digital shows, classes or events, it was not enough to mitigate the financial pressures.”

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‘TONE DEAF’ LIQUOR TAX The spirits industry has complained about an unfair tax burden for years, and now they’re doing something about it. Some of the most famous names in Canadian liquor have teamed up with craft distillers to push for a cut of the “crushingly high” federal taxes on spirits that put the industry at a disadvantage compared to rivals in other countries. The newly formed coalition of small and large players is hoping to turn the plight of craft distilleries into a federal election issue. They argue the federal excise tax on spirits — about $4 per standard bottle — is “tone deaf” and holds back the fledgling micro-distillery industry from the sort of explosive growth that micro-brewers have enjoyed for years. Jake Edmiston has the story. Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP Photo files

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  • NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will make a housing announcement.
  • U.S. Federal Reserve releases minutes from last meeting.
  • Today’s data: Canadian consumer price index, U.S. building permits and housing starts
  • Earnings: Robinhood Markets, Nvidia, Cisco Systems, Target, Lowe’s, TJX

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U.S. companies are on the hunt for workers and more Canadians are being lured into considering making a move down south.

According to employment website Indeed’s latest U.S. jobs report, postings in the U.S. are up 35.2 per cent through July 30, compared to Feb. 1, 2020. Indeed also noticed a 50 per cent increase in job postings using “urgent hiring” language, and the share of postings mentioning bonuses and other hiring incentives had more than doubled. That’s a selling point for Canadians searching for higher salaries.

Here are the U.S. jobs Canadian workers are clicking on.

The chart below originally appeared in the FP Work newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday.

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Undoubtedly you have heard the benefits of speaking a second (or third) language before. It’s great exercise for your brain, keeping the grey matter working in order to not only boost your intelligence levels, but potentially stave off dementia. It instills confidence and emotional intelligence. It can help you think more creatively and may even make it easier to learn new skills.

While those are all great advantages, they are potentially a little difficult to quantify. But here is one reason for learning a foreign language that is pretty black and white. Bilingual employees can earn between 5 per cent and 20 per cent more money per hour than those who speak only one language.

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So how to get started? Our content partner StackCommerce recommends Babbel, the No.1 top-grossing language-learning app in the world. Find out more here.

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Today’s Posthaste was written by Kelsey Rolfe (@kelseyarolfe), with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a story idea, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this newsletter? Email us at [email protected], or hit reply to send us a note.

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