1. Introduction

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The purpose of a framework for culture statistics is to provide concepts and definitions to guide the collection of comparable statistics, as well as to support the development of indicators and analytical research in the culture sector. The use of an official statistical definition of culture in a framework is necessary in order to differentiate it from other concepts of culture, some of which are very broad. The 2011 Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics provides a systematic and coherent foundation for data development, gathering, and analysis of the culture sector across Canada, as well as a means to encourage international comparisons.

The present framework replaces the 2004 Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics, which was one of the first national frameworks produced for culture statistics. At the time of its publication, the Canadian framework declared that a framework, while not static, must be stable for a period in order to be useful. As with all conceptual frameworks and classification systems, there is the need for a cyclical revision process. The 2004 framework suggested that, over time, as the framework was in use to design surveys and support analytical work, it would be useful to record its shortcomings and suggest improvements. This scrutiny supported the revision of the 2004 framework, which led to this 2011 Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics (CFCS).

An understanding of culture requires more than a listing of industries, products, and occupations. The framework is a conceptual model intended to define the scope of culture in Canada by identifying a set of culture domains1 that can be used to support the measurement of culture products from creation to use. It provides a hierarchical structure, as well as terminology and definitions, for the measurement of culture. Its purpose is to provide standard categories to facilitate comprehensive, consistent, and comparable statistics on culture to support evidence based decision-making. Researchers will have a tool to ensure that research and debate are based on a standard approach to measuring culture and its components.

The framework has a role in supporting the development and evaluation of public policy in the culture sector. Government departments and agencies have traditionally worked to promote Canadian content, foster culture participation, encourage active citizenship and participation in Canada's civic life, and strengthen connections among Canadians. The CFCS provides the necessary structure for data collection and analysis that will allow policy makers to understand the status of culture in their jurisdiction and work to develop relevant policies and programs.

The primary purpose of the CFCS is to support the measurement of economic activities related to supply and demand, given that they are the most amenable to statistical analysis. The framework will also promote the measurement of culture from a social perspective through a discussion of issues related to the demand for culture. The approach that follows has a primary focus on tangible culture. There are a few other frameworks, most particularly UNESCO, that discuss the importance of intangible cultural heritage, such as cultural practices and identity.2 While this approach is attractive, and worthy of pursuit, we recognize that our ability to quantify the intangible is limited. Therefore, while the issue of intangible cultural heritage will be touched upon, there is no attempt to identify it within the Canadian framework.

The creative chain, which tracks the creation, production and distribution of culture content, is dependent upon the relationship and balance between supply and demand. Consumption must be prominent given that culture products have little impact unless they are used or are available to other creators or the public. The supply system generates the creative content that feeds consumer demand. Conversely, the market for the creative content generates the demand fed by content providers.

While acknowledging the requirement for demand to support the production of content, most frameworks for culture statistics have concentrated on the supply side of the creative chain. Until recently, frameworks at the international (UNESCO, European Union), and national levels (Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand), recognized the importance of demand but the treatment was incomplete. In most cases, definitions or conceptual designs for the measurement of use were limited or not discussed, as their frameworks were intentionally supply-side only. For example, Quebec produced a substantive hierarchical classification system used to measure the supply of culture products. Its structure, however, was

based on concepts of supply or production (not on concepts of consumption or cultural practices). As a result, the OCCQ [Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec] resolved to only present in QCCACS [the classification system] the economic activities that lend themselves to statistical analysis as seen from a production perspective. (OCCQ 2004, p. 7)

Consequently, most research into culture has tended to concentrate on the supply of culture content to domestic and foreign markets. In Canada, this has meant that information on the use of culture products has been limited to intermittent surveys of consumer spending, attendance and culture participation. The 2004 Canadian framework, while exploring issues related to consumption, such as distinguishing between purchasers and consumers, and recognizing different types of consumers, touched only lightly upon the mechanics of measuring consumption.

UNESCO's Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS), released in September 2009, has taken a significant step forward through its reasoned discussion of demand and the provision of specific tools to measure it. The UNESCOFCS has recognized that the "challenge for a robust and sustainable cultural statistical framework is to cover the contributory processes that enable culture to be created, distributed, received, used, critiqued, understood and preserved" (UNESCO-UIS 2009, p. 19). UNESCO has also provided an important focus on education and training in the culture sector.

The Canadian framework is a conceptual model designed to delineate the universe of culture activity in Canada and define the scope of culture for the purposes of culture statistics. The framework identifies the scope of culture, whether or not it is possible to measure all aspects at any point in time. The model must be flexible enough to reflect changes in the economy or the new ways that we produce or use culture products. Unlike the 2004 version, the CFCS uses the definition and specific criteria as the sole condition for inclusion or exclusion of products in culture. The lack of existing categories within Statistics Canada's classification systems does not justify the exclusion of any particular good or service from the definition of culture. Previously excluded or emerging products, such as crafts or parts of interactive digital media, are now in scope despite the present lack of tools or classes to measure them. While suitable measurement instruments are notably absent for some areas of culture, this framework is a conceptual model and is not intended to provide these tools. Rather, it is designed to provide the foundation upon which the methodologies to develop and collect data can be built.

A classification guide (Statistics Canada 2011), which is published as a companion document to the Conceptual Framework for Culture Statistics 2011, provides tools such as lists of codes from the major classification systems used by Statistics Canada, to support the collection, measurement, and analysis of data on culture industries, goods, services, occupations and instructional programs.

1.1 Required features of a framework

In some ways, culture industries and their characteristics, outputs and impacts are different from other industries measured within official statistics. The CFCS acknowledges these differences while situating culture within the broader national statistical system. In order to do so, the framework, which includes the conceptual model and the classification guide, contains a number of elements.

First, the framework includes a definition of culture. The definition of culture is the boundary within the national statistical system, which encompasses culture.

Second, the framework provides a conceptual structure upon which the definitions and tools to measure culture are organized.

Third, while the rationale for a broad view of culture is understandable, the scope of culture should be as mutually exclusive as possible from other distinct and established statistical fields. In the Canadian context, we exclude explicit measures of the environment, tourism, and information technology from the definition of culture. While culture products consumed by tourists, or the use of information technology for culture purposes, are part of culture, they are not separate categories within the culture framework. Other statistical programs already measure this subject matter. The culture framework specifically includes written and published works (newspapers, books, periodicals and other published works), live performances, festivals, film and video, interactive media, sound recording, music publishing, broadcasting, original and reproduced visual arts, crafts, architecture, photography, design, advertising, cultural and natural heritage (museums, art galleries, heritage sites and buildings), archives, and libraries. It also includes culture education, support of culture by government, unions, associations and other cross-industry non-governmental establishments, and discusses the important additional domains of mediating products and physical infrastructure. A related field of sports is discussed in this framework, but is not defined or measured as part of culture.

Fourth, the framework refers to the definitions of industries, products, occupations and instructional programs from recognized standard classifications used in Canada. The framework must be flexible enough to be used as industry, product, and occupation evolve, when they are revised at the national or international levels.

Fifth, the framework must meet the test of practicality and usability. While attempting to be logical and coherent, the categories chosen to describe industries, products, and occupations must bear a relationship to the descriptors used by governments and the players themselves. If the categories are so different from historical and current means of describing culture activities, and bear little relationship to the sectors' own concepts, the data will not be useful. Only by the use of a balanced approach will the framework meet the various uses required of it.

Sixth, the framework integrates the social and economic aspects of culture. This means that the framework is broad enough to encompass not only the creation, production, and dissemination of culture products but also includes their use as well as the social and economic impacts arising from the creative chain. The CFCS expands beyond the focus of the 2004 framework, to measure more explicitly demand as well as supply, encompassing the entire creative chain in order to encourage the measurement of the full scope of culture and its impact on Canada and Canadians.

Seventh, the framework must be flexible enough to allow measurement of culture goods and services that are undergoing constant and dramatic change, whether by transformations in the products themselves, their production or distribution processes, or the manner in which they are used.

Finally, while designed primarily for Canadian purposes to meet domestic statistical needs, the framework must encourage and support the important requirements of international comparability.

1.2 Objectives of the framework revision

This framework revision has the following objectives:

  • correct inconsistencies and omissions in the 2004 Framework;
  • align terminology and the creative chain concept (described in section 5) to cohere more closely with Statistics Canada standard definitions, while, at the same time, reflect industry and international trends in the description of culture and its various component parts;
  • expand and clarify the description of the creative chain, for the purpose of measuring the full range of culture production and consumption;
  • modify terminology for consistency and clarity;
  • reflect the needs of users and compilers of culture statistics; and
  • align definitions and industry structures with the 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics, as much as possible, in order to support the international comparability of culture statistics.


  1. The term 'domain' is borrowed from The 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS) (UNESCO-UIS  2009).
  2. UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as 'practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage" (UNESCO 2003, p. 3).
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