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Accounting for Culture

Caroline Andrew
Monica Gattinger
M. Sharon Jeannotte
et al.

Part III. New Approaches in a Changing Cultural Environment

7. The Changing Environments of Cultural Policy and Citizenship in Canada

John A. Foote

Texte intégral

  • 1 Colin Mercer, Towards Cultural Citizenship: Tools far Cultural Policy and Development (Hedemora, S (...)

1Culture and citizenship in Canada are shaped and influenced by a broad range of contextual factors that are changing rapidly at home and around the world. While system change is nothing new, the scope and power of current changes are transforming the way we live, cultural and citizenship-related activities, and our capacity to identify, measure, evaluate, and understand their effects and implications. In this chapter, it is argued that both culture and citizenship, as well as the points where they intersect, can be shown to be heavily influenced by rapid and extensive change in their surrounding environments. We define culture as ways of life including the mix of professional and amateur elements of the cultural sector. We define citizenship as the rights and responsibilities of citizens in relation to their country and the state. Cultural citizenship, therefore, refers to the points where cultural expression forms part of one’s role as citizen such as identity, belonging, diversity, advocacy, and different arenas of participation. This chapter addresses these concepts and issues pursuant to the ground-breaking analysis of Colin Mercer who spoke of “the ongoing and indissoluble connection between culture and economics, culture and social relations, culture and power, culture and identity, culture and rights, and culture and human development.”1 The emphasis of this chapter is clearly on culture rather than citizenship, given the large amount of quantifiable information available for the latter. The approach described in this chapter can also be applied to future discussions of citizenship.

  • 2 First environmental scan prepared in the Department of Canadian Heritage (2003).

2Environmental scanning is a recently introduced tool that helps researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders understand where we have been, where we are now, and where are we going. It is a technique based on a variety of traditional disciplines such as history, economics, sociology, and political science as well as more frontier methods including futures analysis, pyschographic studies, organizational behaviour, and impact assessment. The methodology draws on existing trend lines, identifies and assesses both the beneficial and risk-associated impacts of current innovations or system changes, and projects probable “futures” under a variety of scenarios of environmental configuration. It follows closely on the first environmental scan prepared in the Department of Canadian Heritage2 which was intended to prepare policy-makers for major change in each of the above environments including governance and political change.

3This chapter applies the concepts and information associated with globalization, social and demographic change, economic change, and technological innovation (loosely based on the traditional steep model which includes social, technological, economic, physical environmental, and political factors) to the cultural sector including those areas in which culture intersects with citizenship. Selected issues are linked to this panorama of change to help demonstrate how the new environment affects us as creators, producers, or consumers of cultural content, as well as citizens. The reader will observe that we have not included change in other important realms such as governance and political change, bio-technology, the physical environment, transportation and energy, or nanotechnology, to cite only these examples. However, we contend that change in one or more parts of our global environment does, indeed, contribute to the shaping of all interdependent systems, including those of culture and citizenship. The chapter is structured according to what we do and do not know in regard to how cultural change is affected by environmental changes and how culture and citizenship might better inform and intersect with each other to promote cultural and civic engagement.

What Do We Know?: Key Issues and Trends

4Evidence of change in our multiple environments is obvious to us all. While there is nothing radically new or novel in change—all systems undergo change or do not survive—the pace and scope of change, as well as its implications, are increasingly difficult and complex to track and forecast effectively. Nowhere is this truer than in the cultural sector, which is beset by constant change at every stage of its functional chain, from the creative artist, through the production and distribution of content and services, to the consuming and participating citizenry and back again in ubiquitous feedback loops. The changing context for cultural policy requires us to broaden our policy research horizons accordingly. In this opening section of the chapter, we are going to look at the “New Canada” from the perspective of change in globalization, socio-demographics, economics, and new technologies. We will be looking primarily at trends rather than statistical snapshots wherever possible.


  • 3 Victor Rabinovitch, “The Social and Economic Rationales for Canada’s Domestic Cultural Policies,” (...)

5Globalization is resulting in major power shifts around the world through the introduction of new players and the changing roles of traditional interests. National autonomy and borders are more fluid and subject to international compromise or negotiation based on the development of global rules. The term “intermesticity” has been coined to refer to the intensified exposure and vulnerability to world crises and the increasing international interdependence dominated, in the case of Canada, by growing North American economic integration. For example, World Trade Organization (wto) rulings which ran counter to certain existing federal cultural policy instruments in 1997 placed limits on the capacity of governments to secure international legitimacy for formerly sovereign initiatives, some of long standing such as the postal subsidy for Canadian books, periodicals, and newspapers. In any event, according to Victor Rabinovitch: “Retaining a formal sovereign right to develop cultural policies is no longer adequate if program and structural measures put in place by a country are constantly assessed (or challenged) against the standards set for trade in commodities and services.”3

6All things cultural are subject to global variation in mode and nature of expression, access and market power. Globalization affects the nation-state, the region, and locality. The old slogan, “go glocal” still resonates, recalling the strong interconnections of culture embodied in local everyday life, global trade in goods and services, and immigration that typify the modern profile of the “New Canada.” Trade liberalization has contributed to a huge increase worldwide in the movement of goods and services, as well as investment and people, the latter referring to the continuing high levels of sustained immigration and travel (tourist and business). Numbers have remained high in immigration (Canada accepted 235,000 immigrants in 2003, far more than the 100,000 in 1987), although tourism has dropped off rather precipitously in response to the fallout from 9/11 and other global crises, most recently sars and West Nile.

7International trade has increased one thousand per cent since 1945 while the global gnp has increased only five hundred per cent during that same period. Canada’s trade to gdp ratio increased from fifty-one per cent in 1990 to eighty-one per cent in 2001. In simple terms, trade is fundamental to Canada, a country historically dependent on trade. The same is true for culture where historically, the country’s dependence on cultural imports was much stronger than its proven record of exporting domestic output. The gap between Canadian cultural imports and exports grew smaller from 1996 to 2000, during which period exports of Canadian culture grew by fifty per cent to reach the current level of almost five billion dollars.

8There is a lop-sided dependence on the United States as both a foreign market for culture produced in Canada and a source of the still larger volume of cultural imports (seven-and-a-half billion dollars in 2000, up twenty-three per cent for the period between 1996 to 2000). Given the limited economies of scale in Canada’s small domestic market, the longer term viability and competitiveness of Canada’s cultural sector will increasingly depend on taking full advantage of international business opportunities. In principle, globalization or the global reach of digital technology such as satellite and the Internet should allow for greater long term diversification of demand by non-Canadian customers for Canadian content. To date, however, this diversification and a potentially more balanced profile of foreign markets for Canadian content have yet to take place in any significant way.

  • 4 Ibid.

9While globalization holds out the promise of eventually diversifying our cultural markets abroad, Canada continues to run the risk of commercial challenge at home, largely but not entirely US-based, to Canadian cultural policies such as foreign investment limitations and regulatory provisions that distinguish between foreign and Canadian content. The foreign share of Canada’s domestic cultural economy remains high and dominates most cultural industries. Foreign content is pervasive in Canada’s domestic market as the following selected indicators demonstrate: forty-five per cent of book sales, eighty-one per cent of English-language consumer magazines on Canadian newsstands, seventy-nine per cent of retail sales of tapes, CDs, concerts, merchandise and sheet music, eighty-five per cent of film distribution revenues and incredibly, more than ninety-five per cent of theatrical screenings of feature films are foreign-controlled in Canada’s cultural sector.4

10From the Canadian perspective, globalization not only occurs in the North American context but also represents wto negotiations in services affecting trade and culture and the current drive towards gaining international acceptance for a new international instrument to protect cultural diversity. Canada has demonstrated leadership by being involved with the International Network on Cultural Policy in establishing a new instrument that is now being taken up by unesco, pursuant to unesco’s October 2003 decision to develop an international convention on cultural content and artistic expression. It is also important that Canada retain its historically close relations with the United States under any administration including those which might tend to ignore or exploit Canadian cultural vulnerabilities. While Canada cannot ignore the very real impact of the United States on the Canadian cultural economy and psyche occasioned by the continuing forces of continental integration, it must not fail to maintain and solidify the country’s sovereign capacity for choice.

  • 5 Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dialogue on Foreign Policy (Ottawa, 2003).

11The continuing close interaction of Canada and the United States should not mask the profound change in values held by Canadians concerning foreign policy and globalization in which Canada’s so-called third pillar of foreign policy (which many critics argue is still ill-defined and under-appreciated) is projecting our values and culture outside the country. While it does not constitute a full-scale review of Canadian foreign policy, the 2003 Dialogue on Foreign Policy with Canadians conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade found that many Canadians believe that while increasing global interconnections facilitate trans-national networking, they may also provoke social tensions over the erosion of political and cultural sovereignty.5 Many are concerned that Canada is losing influence and should work to strengthen our international presence. While Canadians support freer trade, they also want to be assured that bilateral and multilateral international agreements are consistent with human rights, cultural diversity, and ecological sustainability and that they explicitly protect essential public services in Canada, especially Medicare and education. Notably, the Dialogue on Foreign Policy report states that “public confidence in the value of globalization will be sustained only if its benefits are fairly shared.” Culture, and Canada’s growing cultural diversity are strong “calling cards” in promoting Canadian values and interests abroad. Without fuller and more strategic exploitation and “branding” of Canadian cultural assets through trade and international exchanges, culture as the third pillar will never assume its rightful place in the country’s foreign policy.

Socio-Demographic Trends

12Canadian society is changing fundamentally towards greater diversity. This is true in respect to an aging population as medical advances continue their revolutionary enhancement of baby boom longevity. Canada’s population exhibits growing levels of ethno-cultural and linguistic diversity brought about largely by society-transforming patterns of immigration. The continuing relevance of place to a country as diverse and extended geographically as Canada is reflected in growing regional alienation of perimeters from the centre and the continuing growth of urbanization and megacities leading to a concomitant decline in rural populations. There are some apparent anomalies present in the trajectory of social change in the New Canada including, for example, a slow decline in the fertility rate of much of the Canadian population and the rapid birth rate of Canada’s Aboriginal population (more than one-third of Aboriginals in Canada are fourteen years old or under.)

13Let us look at some of the indicators of demographic change first. By 2021, seniors could account for almost one-fifth of the Canadian population (they currently represent thirteen per cent). Regionally, Quebec and Atlantic populations are likely to age more rapidly than those in the Western provinces including the Territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan (each with large Aboriginal youth cohorts), and Alberta and B.C. with their steady immigration of working age populations. At the same time, significant numbers of Canada’s youth (eighteen and under) are becoming increasingly marginalized as their respective share of the population declines. This marginalization is quite apparent in voting turnout where Canadians eighteen to twenty-four are consistently between ten per cent and twenty-five per cent below that of the general voting population.

14In 2001, Canadians reported more than 200 ethnic origins: forty-seven per cent of the population reported ethnic origins other than British, French and Canadian, making these latter groups a decided minority in the New Canada. Five ethnic origins (German, Italian, Chinese, Ukranian, and North American Indian) currendy report populations of over one million each. The visible minority population (defined as persons other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour) has grown from just 4.7 per cent of the Canadian population in 1981 to 13.4per cent in 2001 and is expected to reach twenty per cent by 2016. Currently, three of ten visible minorities were born in Canada and thus, are not solely the result of first generation immigration. Immigration continues to redefine the face of Canada and is expected to provide some eighty per cent of Canada’s population growth by 2030. Immigrants continue to face challenges however, including substantially lower earnings than other Canadians even after ten years in the country, regardless of education. Recognition in Canada of foreign credentials also remains problematic. The impacts of these trends are felt primarily in Toronto and Vancouver and to a lesser extent, in Montreal, eighty-seven per cent of visible minorities are concentrated in these three cities today, up over twelve per cent from 1996.

15Linguistic diversity is also growing in the new Canada. In 2001, Canadians reported 100 languages as mother tongue. Close to thirty per cent of immigrants and refugees aged fifteen and up do not know at least one of Canada’s official languages, although the longer immigrants remain in Canada, the more likely they are to speak English or French at home. Official language minorities are over-represented in aging population cohorts and the bilingual capacity amongst young Anglophones (fifteen to nineteen) outside Quebec declined from 16.3 per cent in 1996 to just 14.7 per cent in 2001 and from 12.9 per cent in 1996 to just 11.5 per cent in 2001 for those aged ten to fourteen.

  • 6 Statistics Canada, Census of Canada (Ottawa, 2001).

16Social change is broader than demographic change. It can also extend to identity where twenty-two per cent more census respondents reporting Aboriginal origin (712,000 in 1986, 1.3 million in 2001) self-identified as Aboriginals.6 In respect to attachment, public opinion surveys report higher percentages of Canadians who feel more attached to their province than to Canada (from twety-nine per cent in 2000 to thirty-eight per cent in 2003) while those who professed attachment primarily to Canada declined slightly from sixty-one per cent in 2000 to fifty-eight per cent three years later. The decline in Canadian attachment is most marked in Alberta where respondents are ten per cent less attached to the country in 2003 than they were six years earlier.

  • 7 Statistics Canada, Changing Patterns of Cultural Consumption and Participation (Ottawa, 2000)
  • 8 Statistics Canada, Canada Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating (Ottawa, 1999 and 2001)
  • 9 Statistics Canada, Changing Patterns of Cultural Consumption.

17Trends in the cultural behaviour of individuals, notably cultural attendance, consumption and participation, including voluntarism, show interesting signs of rapid socio-demographic change in Canada. The environmental scan can help to identify and understand cultural consumption and participation patterns inside and outside Canada. It can also help policy developers select from among the most persuasive evidence-based research. Finally, the scan can help to plan and develop future strategic policy research priorities. In 1998, Canadians over the age of fifteen had at their disposal only 6.2 hours of free time per day, only five minutes more than 1992.7 The importance of culture in everyday life is demonstrated by the fact that Canadians spent fifty-five per cent of their leisure time on culture-related activities, thirty-one per cent on socializing with family and friends, eight per cent playing sports and six per cent on volunteering.8 Clearly, changing demographics have a very important impact on time use. Canadianborn residents of Canada are more likely to visit traditional heritage institutions such as museums whereas those born outside Canada report a higher rate of visits to zoos, aquaria, planetaria, etc. Geographically, participation differs considerably among the provinces. Higher numbers of individuals with post-secondary education attend theatre, symphonies, and dance performances. Looking at age, young people fifteen to twenty four spend only.2 hours per day volunteering while older adults fifty-five to sixty-four spend.6 hours per day.9 Today’s teens are well connected: In 2003, eighty-nine per cent had access to home computers while fifty-nine per cent had access to high speed Net service.

  • 10 Statistics Canada, Canada Survey cm Giving, (2001).

18In regard to voluntarism, studies have shown a strong correlation between volunteering and other forms of participation such as philanthropy, group membership, and voting. However, here the picture is not altogether rosy: voluntarism in 2000 declined thirteen per cent from 1997 (although still accounted for over one billion hours of work) and a small core of volunteers (seven per cent of all Canadians) contributed almost three-quarters of all voluntary hours. With respect to donations, the other principal participation category, only 2.4 per cent of Canadians donate money to cultural organizations. Education remains the most important determinant of who donates while income determines how much to a significant degree. It is interesting that rural and small town Canadians give proportionately more to the cultural sector than do urban Canadians.10

  • 11 Michael Adams, Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values (Toronto: (...)
  • 12 Allan Gregg, “Strains Across the Border,” Maclean’s (December 30, 2002).

19The values held by Canadians are, of course, also subject to considerable stress and change as well. Declining deference to authority in the “New Canada” represents a sea-change from that of the “Old Canada.” For example, demand for accountability is on the rise while there is a concomitant decline in trust in public and private sector institutions and interest in quality of life issues is expanding in the post-materialist Canadian society. As North American economies are converging, Canadian and American values seem to be diverging somewhat.11 As another recent article extolling the “New Canada” noted, young adults in the two countries tend to hold rather opposing attitudes on such values as collective social responsibility and post-materialism; in other words, Canadians are the Venus to the American Mars.12

20As noted above, the results of social change can be negative such as the growing disengagement of Canadians in civic institutions and practices. The digital divide has become a very real and significant trend in the information age to the detriment of “unplugged” Canadians. Among indicators showing enduring disparities in Canada are economic security (income polarization, poverty, unemployment, homeless, and at risk populations), lifestyle changes (average leisure time, quality of life index), co-operation, participation (religious attendance and affiliation, social involvement and networking) and literacy. In regard to the latter, forty-two per cent of Canadians ages sixteen to sixty-five did not have the literacy skills to participate fully in the knowledge-based economy in 2001.

Technological Trends

  • 13 Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs: the Next Social Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2003).

21Technological innovation continues its inexorable evolution but over a shorter time span than heretofore and with greater economy- and society-wide consequences. Technological change is having a profound impact on the cultural sector where new tools for the expression of creativity, enhanced production values such as special digital effects in film and broadcasting, the ubiquitous development of new media and the greatly enhanced capacity to distribute cultural content are now common place. Technological change is also altering citizenship in good ways such as the creation of virtual communities and multiple identities and the rise of e-government while broadening the gamut of interactive communications between citizens and governments including electronic voting in elections and referenda. It can also affect citizenship in more negative ways such as the alienation of disengaged youth and the growth of “smart mobs” with the use of mobile communications and computing devices.13 The period of time between invention/innovation and popular uptake by the population is narrowing considerably. The social, economic, and political potential of interactive, high speed, and unlimited volume of information distribution and manipulation is immense and growing daily.

22While Canada has always been at the vanguard of developing and accessing new technologies such as cable, microwave, and satellite, their long term use in creating, transmitting, and receiving cultural content as well as in messaging is perhaps better known. New technologies allow new players to enter the cultural marketplace, increase competition among traditional players, and expose vast amounts of digital content to interested consumers. Cultural industries must use new technologies to remain competitive but in so doing, there is always a significant investment cost and risk involving the same problems of national scope and scale associated with the traditional media. However, this technical advancement, which will be felt at each end of the cultural chain, is sure to continue its rapid acceleration with the spread of information and communication technologies (ICTS) throughout the economy, especially by miniature chips imbedded in goods and services rendered increasingly more efficient, interactive, and reliable.

23Along with the electric light bulb, the telephone and computers, the Internet is yet another “tipping” innovation which has already begun to transform all who use it. The Net exemplifies the major convergence of several new technologies with its rapid creation of new opportunities for the dissemination of cultural and other forms of content. Creators, producers, and distributors of Canadian content are pressed to secure prominent places on the Internet in the face of massive real-time global information flows. Policy issues affecting both culture and citizenship that are associated with the introduction of the Internet and its rapid diffusion to users include the impact of the Net on traditional media such as books and broadcasting, questions involving violations of privacy in monitoring Net usage, the unchecked carriage of pornography and violence on the Net (as in digital television on demand), regulatory limitations, (based on the technical difficulties involved in controlling aspects of the Internet), the need for enhanced digital copyright protection, the need to bridge the digital divide as a public policy priority and to support on-line services through constantly expanding e-commerce. Yet another issue pertinent to Canada is the continuing low level of French-language content on the Net, resulting in a differential in utilization, e.g., forty-four per cent of French-speaking Canadians used the Net in 2001 compared to fifty-eight per cent of English-speaking Canadians.

Economic Trends

  • 14 Peter Schwartz, Peter Leyden, and Joel Hyatt, The Long Boom: Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperi (...)

24The global and Canadian economies are subject to the same abundant and relentless change as are each of the other environments discussed here. Notwithstanding the small downturn or slowdown in growth since 9/11 throughout the Western world, Canada has enjoyed a relatively long period of what Peter Schwartz and others have called “The Long Boom” in terms of economic growth prior to 9/11.14 Schwartz et al. refer to the years between 1980 and 2020 as a period of remarkable global transformation in the economy marked by an incredible confluence of technological change, economic innovation, global integration, and spreading democratization. They believe that this transforming period of global economic growth and integration is the first stage of a more complex social and political integration anticipated as the twenty-first century evolves. They also believe that technological change and globalization are fundamental to this period of economic change. However, notwithstanding the long-term relevance and reliability of this analysis, global economic growth prospects have deteriorated somewhat since 2000-2001 owing to a previously over-heated technological marketplace and, of course, global crises such as 9/11.

  • 15 Treasury Board of Canada, Canada’s Performance: Annual Report to Parliament (Ottawa, 2003).

25Canada fared relatively well in economic terms during the first half of the boom, especially over the last decade, gdp per capita increased on average by almost three per cent annually from 1995 to 2000 compared to.2 per cent annually during the first half of the 1990s. Canada’s real disposable income gained on average 2.3 per cent annually between 1997 and 2000.560,000 jobs, sixty per cent full-time, were created in 2002, the largest number in history. Although unemployment rates declined steadily from 1993 to 2000, they have inched back upwards since and currently stand just over seven per cent. On an international scale, according to the Government of Canada’s most recent Report to Parliament on Performance, Canada led the Group of Seven industrialized countries in economic growth for two of the first three years in the new millenium.15 Moreover, Canada is the only G7 country that had both a federal budget surplus and a surplus in trade in 2002. It is also noteworthy that Canada has not lost as many jobs per capita as did the United States following the collapse of the high tech dot-com financial markets in the late 1990s. While Canada outpaced the United States over the past four years based on several economic indices, it has not, however, narrowed the gap in regard to productivity where the gap between the two countries grew from 12.5 per cent in 1981 to 16.1 per cent in 2000.

  • 16 House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty, The Second Century of Can (...)
  • 17 Statistics Canada, Survey of Household Expenditures (Ottawa, 2000).
  • 18 Ibid.

26Owing to global and hemispheric ties, Canada is impacted strongly by foreign competition. This is particularly true in the case of Canadian cultural industries with economies, of scale limitations compared to the large scale advantages of their larger American counterparts. Canada’s cultural organizations have not been immune from downsizing and mergers/acquisitions as part of a continuing restructuring required for effective global competition. Concerns about multi-media ownership are recurring once again after an earlier flurry of public interest in the 1970s. These concerns extend the effect of mergers and consolidation of ownership on diversity of content, independence of editorial content within multi-media conglomerates, and foreign ownership regulations. While the rush of mergers and acquisitions has slowed down since the late 1990s, the results can be seen in the following figure for 2000-2001 in Canada: five private television companies accounted for eighty-eight per cent of total industry revenues, five firms accounted for seventy-eight per cent of daily newspaper circulation as well as sixty per cent of community newspaper circulation, five cable television firms generated eighty-five per cent of all cable revenues, five pay and specialty service operators captured seventy per cent of total pay and specialty revenues and five private radio operators accounted for fifty-seven per cent of total radio revenues. The report of the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage addressed the issues of concentration of ownership and foreign ownership in broadcasting.16 Cultural consumption is yet another area that measures aspects of the sector’s economic impact Cultural consumer spending in Canada, totalling $21.3 billion in 2001, was more than three times larger than total government spending in culture by all three levels of government ($6.2 billion) and grew more quickly (twenty-six per cent) than overall consumer spending (twenty-three per cent) between 1997 and 2001. Cultural spending accounts for approximately four per cent of total household spending in Canada or almost one dollar out of every thirty dollars spent by Canadian consumers.17 Consumer spending on the live arts and heritage grew by ten per cent from 1997 to 2001, more than double the rate of increased spending on sporting events. Spending also increased in motion picture admissions (forty-six per cent), home entertainment (thirty-three per cent), and photography (twenty-eight per cent) during the same period.18 Again, there are strong regional variations in cultural consumption as well as differences between urban and rural spending.

  • 19 Statistics Canada, Economic Impact of Culture in Canada (Ottawa, 2004).

27Other economic trends bearing on the cultural sector in Canada as well as the economy as a whole, include the rising Canadian dollar (relative to the declining American dollar), the growing impact of culture on the Gross Domestic Product, and the growth of the “new media” industry. While the recent rise in the Canadian dollar has not yet registered a definitive impact on Canadian cultural exports, a dampening influence on the pattern of multi-year growth could develop. The economic impact of culture in Canada was most recently measured for 1996-1997 although a more recent study was released in 2004 by Statistics Canada.19 The gdp impact of culture has grown from five billion dollars in 1981, or 1.7 per cent of total gdp, to $22.5 billion, or 3.1 per cent of the gdp in 1996-1997. New numbers expected in 2004 concerning the economic impact of culture in Canada will undoubtedly show a continuing pattern of growth in gdp attributed to it. Moreover, this pattern of growth is also demonstrated in the number of new media companies in Canada—many of which are content-based—which doubled in just one year from 1999 to 2000. Every major cultural industry firm in Canada is currently competing to deliver content electronically and many are currently planning major roll-outs of digital services such as digital television and high definition television.

28The cultural labour force in Canada is also growing rapidly but it remains one of strong regional and occupational variations in income levels and age distribution: sixty-eight per cent of writers were over thirty-five in 1997 while forty-five per cent of employed performing artists were under thirty-five. Some 640,000 jobs were estimated to have been generated by the cultural sector in 1996-1997, up from 186,000 in 1981. Continuing trends on the cultural labour front include higher than average educational levels of cultural workers: over sixty per cent in writing and heritage/library occupations had a university degree in 1997 in contrast to just twenty-two per cent for the entire labour force.

What Don’t We Know?

  • 20 Jean-Claude Guillebaud, Actes du congrès AIUTA (Geneva, 2001).
  • 21 Ted Gordon, “State of the Future Index,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, no. 2 (Summer 2003).

29Knowledge gaps are the substance of futures research from the short-term to the long-term. Futures can be defined as the science of measuring and predicting change. When this change risks negative consequences, we are warned by Alfred Sauvy that “il faut prévoir pour ne pas voir.”20 From the perspective of promoting the public interest in enhanced and more democratic cultural and citizenship participation, futures analysis can be used, with varying levels of success, to identify and project ahead trends in key variables and system change. It is not unusual that research on major gaps in cultural data can be joined up with evidence-based policy analysis to help address the scope of change, prepare scenarios for different types of change, and chart the course of change to come. The collection over time of meaningful longitudinal data used in determining aggregate society- or economy-wide impact requires long-range commitments, sizable research budgets, and carefully designed research instruments such as surveys and electronic tracking. The recent work of Ted Gordon on the development of improved futures scenarios through the State of the Futures Index (son) is an especially instructive use of futures on a global scale.21

30The following gaps are only a brief statement of selected areas among many requiring further research.

Social Change and Motivation

31Among our biggest gaps in cultural research are those that lie in the area of social change, especially the motivations underlying social behaviour and which condition the social impact of culture. Cultural and civic participation are notable types of social behaviour although, for the most part, the motivations and necessary or conducive conditions underlying their engagement are neither widely known nor understood. Consequently, more work is needed to gather and analyse data on the motivations that bear upon participation in culture and leisure activities. Similar research might be undertaken in citizenship engagement. The two areas could then be compared and points of intersection described. Some possible topics in common might include time use, formats (live or mediated), effects on identity and quality of life, and contributing factors (income, education, family structure, region, age, gender, diversity).

32While social gaps are notoriously difficult to fill, impressive steps are being taken in addressing aspects of social impact such as the role of culture in enhancing social cohesion and attachment. Work is under way to isolate a manageable but meaningful set of indicators, with the help of constantly evolving environmental scans, among other measures. Parallel to this search for social indicators is the vital work of conceptual development and related theoretical framing of the field of enquiry. A coherent and targeted research program dedicated to studying the social impact of culture would certainly constitute a useful contribution to the current and future cultural research agenda. Again, the relationship of culture and citizenship, and their interrelationships, could form a critical part of the work on social impact. Indeed, there is increasing evidence of a positive correlation between cultural participation and health, well-being and quality of life.

Economic Issues

33Detailed statistics are not always available concerning all aspects of trade in cultural goods and services, global and domestic investment flows for the cultural industries, the constantly changing profile of mergers and acquisitions in the cultural and communications industries, the development of new media economic applications, and the central role of consumers of cultural hardware, software, and content in system development and change. Other data gaps include the lack of fully harmonized estimates of the cultural labour force which vary significantly depending on the data source(s) used (e.g., Census, Monthly Labour Force Survey, Cultural Surveys, Economic Impact Analsysis). Yet another economic data gap is our paucity of knowledge of Canada’s productivity in the cultural sector where extensive, ongoing investment and integration of new technology applications are key to the future viability of the cultural industries. Finally, from an economic perspective, it is always tempting to join together the cultural and information industries in an effort to portray the growing size of the information economy. This is largely a question of classification but involves the inclusion of both hardware and content in this larger construct.

New Technologies

34The latest developments in Internet-related technological applications are high speed access and mobile interconnections. Both are well under way in various parts of the world. Canada has one of the world’s highest penetration rates of high speed access over both telecommunications and cable. In Japan and Europe, text messaging over wireless telephones connected to the Net is taking off and creating what Howard Rheingold has labelled the “smart mob.” We have little real information yet on how new forms of mobile communications and information will, indeed, usher in profound social and economic change. However, there can be little doubt that both the cultural and civic agenda will be altered in ways that cannot always be fully appreciated faced with the rapid, inexorable change of new technologies.

  • 22 Manuel Castells, End of Millenium: The Information Age—Economy, Society and Culture, Volume 3 (Lon (...)
  • 23 John Petersen, Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises (Lanham, MD: The Arlington (...)
  • 24 Zhouying Jin, “The Fourth Generation of Technology Foresight and Soft Technology,” Futures Researc (...)

35Social science research is required in regard to the effect of new technologies in helping to forge new visions of culture and citizenship in Canada. As Manuel Castells stated, “[T]here is an extraordinary gap between our technological over-development and our social under-development.”22 John Petersen demonstrates how new “tipping” technologies often take the form of unforeseen “wild cards” that can trigger massive change in the environment or cause major system change.23 The challenge is to develop proactive scenarios that incorporate a serious assessment of risk to help counter the impact of wild cards. One of the most important elements of reducing the risk of technological determinism is moving away from technological forecasting to technological foresight.24


  • 25 John Foote, “Research on Creativity” (unpublished paper, 2002), citing Council of Scholars, Creati (...)
  • 26 Council of Europe, In From the Margins (Strasbourg, 1997 and 2001).

36Creativity is used in a variety of circumstances but is generally understood to have something positive or purposeful to contribute towards reaching a desired end. As the U.S.-based Council of Scholars said over twenty years ago, “The need is for a more precise definition of creativity, one which comprehends innovation and tradition and which is applicable across disciplines and fields.”25 While the Council of Europe has referred to “cultural and creativity as the cornerstones of the information society,”26 little in the way of focused research has been undertaken on creativity either from the perspective of its direct and ubiquitous presence throughout the cultural sector—especially at the creative end of the cultural process chain—or its broader societal implications. For example, the role of psychology in the creative process, usually mediated by institutions such as the family, society, church and school, is a well-studied phenomenon but not often applied to the formation of artistic creators. Similarly, the role of creativity in planning has been neither rigorously nor imaginatively explored.

37The thrust of these changes has been to elevate the importance of creativity as a defining part of each of the four basic functions represented in the cultural economic chain—creation, production and distribution (including marketing and advertising), consumption and participation, and preservation. Creativity is critical to the work of artists who provide the research and development for the cultural economy. The increasing use of the term, “creative industries” in Europe provides evidence of the increased recognition of a strong link between the cultural industries and creativity. Creativity will also become more visible at the consumer stage through the use of interactive digital technologies and services in ordering and consuming. Using new media and multiple mobile ways of interacting and interfacing will soon become normal activities of our culture in everyday life. The uses to which they and other new media are placed will be determined in part by the creativity of their users as well as by the functionality and efficacy of the devices.

Implications: Possible Effects on Culture and Citizenship

  • 27 House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty, see also Government of Ca (...)
  • 28 Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, Fourth Interim Report on the Canadian N (...)

38We are looking for a conceptual approach that helps us move away from the marginalization of culture or cultural policy towards a greater recognition of its fundamental role in encouraging active cultural and civic participation and in bridging inter-cultural differences. Canadians can and must engage more actively with their fellow citizens and either directly or indirectly with the peoples and cultures of the world. Governments are beginning to change their roles and rethink their mandates in light of this period of hastening change. There are likely to be major changes in the process of policy development and the structure of programs that are occasioned by rapid change in the global, social, economic, and technological environments. Some examples of changes in policy development triggered by changes in the environment are already evident in respect to cultural diversity both at the regulatory and policy level. Other recent examples where technological and economic change is at the fore of successive reviews of culture in Canada include the Public Hearings and Final Report by the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage27 and the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications.28 There are many more examples of similar policy reviews that are closely associated with major changes in the global environment. Some of these also result in program re-structuring such as the significant upgrading of audience research as part of program components intended to stimulate demand.

39Power and governance relations are shifting. Some functions previously carried out by the state are being transferred to business. Shifts are also under way in civil society where voluntary organizations are beginning to assume certain responsibilities. There will be increasing numbers of players and enhanced decentralization of functions among governments, industry, the voluntary sector, civil society, and individual citizens. Simultaneously, demand is growing for more accountable governance mechanisms that will allow for and indeed promote more extensive citizen involvement in policy development with the benefit of evidence-based evaluation. “Intermesticity” has become the norm as issues are increasingly borderless and the lines among nations, jurisdictions, and departments are more and more blurred. The importance in a federal state such as Canada of an ongoing exchange of information, consultations, partnerships, and joint ventures among all levels of government, including cities which are a creative powerhouse behind cultural development, will become more pronounced. The expanding role of communities, both geographical and of interest, must also be taken into fuller account for it is there that policies hit the ground. New technologies also facilitate, some might say, “drive” many of the independent environmental changes.

  • 29 Andy Hines, “Applying Integral Futures to Environmental Scanning,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, (...)
  • 30 Matthew J. Morgan, “On the Fringes: Future Opportunitites for Futures Studies,” Futures Research Q (...)

40In its initial applications, environmental scanning helps build a mental model of the environment and naturally tends to focus on coping with information overload by grouping and categorizing information and by drawing trend lines over time.29 Environmental scanning ideally should be able to track things quantitatively, qualitatively and perhaps even intuitively in each sphere of the total environment using the steep model or a variation thereof. Morgan argues that futures studies can only gain by the application of its methods and techniques to so-called “fringe” areas of enquiry.30 We believe that while the social sciences, and culture and entertainment in particular, may have been cast as fringe areas, they are likely to provide insights that would be useful in environmental scanning exercises and to serve as creative laboratories for understanding change now and in the foreseeable future.

  • 31 Other helpful resources include John Foote, “The Cultural Policy of Canada,” in Council of Europe, (...)

41In conclusion, the strong conceptual linkages between citizenship and culture, posited as one of the fundamental themes of this book, must be deepened in order to guide researchers in the direction of a strong policy research effort that may ultimately explain the causation of changing environmental realities. Moving towards “cultural citizenship” will benefit from the application of environmental scanning methods and approaches and their inclusion of both quantitative and qualitative evidence, organized and explained according to different disciplines, in the form of trend lines from the past, through the present, towards the future.31


1 Colin Mercer, Towards Cultural Citizenship: Tools far Cultural Policy and Development (Hedemora, Sweden: Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and Gidlunds Forlag, 2002).

2 First environmental scan prepared in the Department of Canadian Heritage (2003).

3 Victor Rabinovitch, “The Social and Economic Rationales for Canada’s Domestic Cultural Policies,” in Dennis Browne, ed., The Culture/Trade Quandary (Ottawa 1998).

4 Ibid.

5 Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dialogue on Foreign Policy (Ottawa, 2003).

6 Statistics Canada, Census of Canada (Ottawa, 2001).

7 Statistics Canada, Changing Patterns of Cultural Consumption and Participation (Ottawa, 2000)

8 Statistics Canada, Canada Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating (Ottawa, 1999 and 2001)

9 Statistics Canada, Changing Patterns of Cultural Consumption.

10 Statistics Canada, Canada Survey cm Giving, (2001).

11 Michael Adams, Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values (Toronto: Penguin Books, 2003).

12 Allan Gregg, “Strains Across the Border,” Maclean’s (December 30, 2002).

13 Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs: the Next Social Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2003).

14 Peter Schwartz, Peter Leyden, and Joel Hyatt, The Long Boom: Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity (New York, 2000).

15 Treasury Board of Canada, Canada’s Performance: Annual Report to Parliament (Ottawa, 2003).

16 House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty, The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting (Ottawa, 2003).

17 Statistics Canada, Survey of Household Expenditures (Ottawa, 2000).

18 Ibid.

19 Statistics Canada, Economic Impact of Culture in Canada (Ottawa, 2004).

20 Jean-Claude Guillebaud, Actes du congrès AIUTA (Geneva, 2001).

21 Ted Gordon, “State of the Future Index,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, no. 2 (Summer 2003).

22 Manuel Castells, End of Millenium: The Information Age—Economy, Society and Culture, Volume 3 (London: Blackwell Publishers, 2000).

23 John Petersen, Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises (Lanham, MD: The Arlington Institute, 1999).

24 Zhouying Jin, “The Fourth Generation of Technology Foresight and Soft Technology,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, no. 2 (Summer 2003).

25 John Foote, “Research on Creativity” (unpublished paper, 2002), citing Council of Scholars, Creativity: A Continuing Inventory of Knowledge (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1981).

26 Council of Europe, In From the Margins (Strasbourg, 1997 and 2001).

27 House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty, see also Government of Canada, Response to the Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Our Cultural Sovereignty (Ottawa, 2003).

28 Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, Fourth Interim Report on the Canadian News Media (Ottawa, 2004).

29 Andy Hines, “Applying Integral Futures to Environmental Scanning,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, no. 4 (Winter 2003).

30 Matthew J. Morgan, “On the Fringes: Future Opportunitites for Futures Studies,” Futures Research Quarterly 19, no. 3 (Fall 2003).

31 Other helpful resources include John Foote, “The Cultural Policy of Canada,” in Council of Europe, ed., Compendium of Cultural Policies (Strasbourg 2003); Helen Gould, “Cultural Capital and Social Capital,” in François Matarasso, ed., Recognizing Culture: Briefing Papers on Culture and Development (London: Comedia, 2001), cited in Colin Mercer, Towards Cultural Citizenship.


Born in Vancouver, B.C. and received a bachelor of arts with majors in political science and history from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, a master in international affairs with a major in American foreign policy in Latin America from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, “Political Communications in Canada’s Prime Minister’s Office: the Trudeau Governments, 1968-1974.” He has worked in the federal government since 1974, after working for several years in the Prime Minister’s Office while researching his dissertation. He has worked in a number of policy capacities, including federal-provincial relations, international relations, and arts policy, both at the Department of Communications and the Department of Canadian Heritage. Since 2001, he has been the manager of research integration and planning for the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate of the Department of Canadian Heritage. He has taught courses at Concordia University and the University of Montreal and was seconded to the Department of External Affairs from 1977 to 1979 where he worked in the Energy Transportation and Communications Division. He is an ex-officio member of the Board of the Canadian Cultural Research Network. His principal interest is in linking cultural policy with cultural research

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