The Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage today released the 2017 National Compensation Study – For Managerial and Administrative Positions in Not-for-Profit Arts Organizations, an update to a similar study in 2008 and before that, in 2003. The full report is available on both the Canada Council website and at

The findings show there have been only minimal compensation improvements, particularly for the small and mid-sized organizations which make up the majority of the arts organizations in the sector – and in fact over the nine-year period since 2008, real wages actually decreased.

Trends identified by the study include:

  • Wages: With the exception of organizations with operating budgets of $100,000 to $250,000 and $1,000,000 to $5,000,000, there were no real wage increases from 2008 to 2017 – with an actual decrease by an average of 0.1% when inflation is considered.
  • Benefits: Relative to 2008, the frequency of benefits being offered by arts organizations has increased for certain benefits, such as long-term disability and life insurance. The prevalence of benefits, such as dental and vision coverage have dramatically decreased. Although these findings are similar to what was revealed in 2003 and 2008, the scope and frequency of benefits offered across the cultural sector are disproportionately lower than what is offered in other sectors.
  • Retirement: Retirement savings plans are also now more prevalent in smaller organizations, but the overall prevalence across the cultural sector remains quite low relative to other sectors. Retirement savings plans are clearly a major retention strategy for managerial top talent.
  • Flexible work arrangements: There has been an increase in organizations offering non-health related benefits such as flexible work arrangements, now more commonly found in both small and large organizations.

The study also confirmed that arts organizations continue to lag behind the general not-for-profit and private sectors in many areas of compensation and benefits.

Richard Hornsby, Chair of CHRC, commented that: “Not-for-profit arts organizations will likely continue to struggle with attracting and retaining senior management and executive talent because of a limited ability to offer competitive salaries and benefits. This further highlights a real ongoing challenge for recruitment and retention.”

In November and December of 2017, 436 organizations within the not-for-profit cultural sector participated in this comprehensive compensation study. The study focused on 21 benchmark management and administrative positions, and gathered data on base salary, employee benefits and perquisites, as well as a number of other HR trends.

The study was undertaken by CHRC and Mercer (Canada) Limited with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage.