Culture Funding by Country

Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 17, No 3 (Winter 2006)


In October 2005, the Canada Council for the Arts published preliminary findings in a study, "Comparisons of Arts Funding in Selected Countries." This research on the part of the Council is intended to "support the case that additional arts funding is needed in Canada in order for Canadian arts organizations and artists to thrive and to function on the same level as their peers in other countries." Its findings are available on the Canada Council's web site.

Other nations and researchers (notably Prof. Mark Schuster in a seminal 1985 study) have grappled with the question of comparing arts funding in different countries. The data used in most of these studies have been: per capita arts funding, arts spending by national governments as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, arts spending by national governments as a percentage of all government spending, and comparative income sources of arts organizations. Canada Council Research Manager Claire McCaughey acknowledges that complex differences in the sizes and economies of different countries and their governments and in the means by which the arts are supported by different nations make it profoundly difficult to use such data to draw direct comparisons. McCaughey, who notes that a true international comparison would require much more extensive research, hopes that the Council's preliminary report will lead to careful continued studies of the subject in the future.

Several tables in the report present different dimensions of the study's preliminary findings. "Table 2(b)" charts overall cultural funding in each of twenty countries, and introduces differences in both funding levels and in how governments approach supporting the arts.