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The Arts and Local Economic Development: Can a Strong Arts Presence Uplift Local Economies? A Study of 135 Canadian Cities


  • Mario Polèse


The paper looks at arts-related employment in 135 Canadian urban areas over 35 years (1971–2006), successively examining location patterns, co-location with knowledge-rich industries and impacts on employment growth. Arts-related employment is found to be highly concentrated in the very largest urban centres, with no indication of change. Smaller places with particular attributes (attractive natural setting, proximity to large urban centres) are increasingly successful in attracting arts-related activities, but this is not necessarily associated with stronger employment growth or the development of knowledge-rich industries. Evidence of co-location with knowledge-rich industries is weak, but stronger for larger cities. No consistently significant relationship exists with employment growth. This holds true for all cities, irrespective of size. If a synergy exists between the arts and local development, the paper concludes, it is limited to specific industries and only operates in the context of large cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Mario Polèse, 2012. "The Arts and Local Economic Development: Can a Strong Arts Presence Uplift Local Economies? A Study of 135 Canadian Cities," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 49(8), pages 1811-1835, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:49:y:2012:i:8:p:1811-1835

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