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49(1) 97114, January 2012

Cultural Industries in Small-sized

Canadian Cities: Dream or Reality?
Jonathan Denis-Jacob
[Paper first received, July 2010; in final form, December 2010]

This paper looks at the residential location of cultural workers in the smallest Canadian
cities, with the primary goal of understanding the factors making some more successful
than others in attracting them. The study examines employment in 13 cultural industries
in 109 small Canadian urban areas using data drawn from the 2006 Canadian census. Six
explanatory factors are put forward and entered into a regression model to explain the
location of cultural workers in small places: size, location with respect to metropolitan
areas, work structure, amenities, elderly populations and public-sector choices. The
results suggest that, beyond industry-specific production processes, the location of
cultural workers in small cities is also driven by residential and lifestyle preferences.

Over the past decade, cultural industries
have attracted much attention from urban
researchers. An abundant literature draws
upon their potential role in urban economic
development (Florida, 2002b; Hall, 2000;
Landry, 2000; Markusen and King, 2003;
Scott, 2004) and in urban regeneration (Evans
2001; Hutton, 2009; Pratt, 2009). Cultural
industries are said to be contributing to urban
economies in several ways. First, they continue to grow, contributing to employment
creation in urban areas while other sectors are
experiencing decline (Scott, 2004). Secondly,
and perhaps more importantly, cultural

industries are regarded as driving forces for

the regeneration of post-industrial urban fabrics (Evans, 2001; Florida, 2008; Hutton, 2009;
Pratt, 2009), as well as a means to enhance
their attractiveness for mobile professionals
and capital (Florida, 2002a; Markusen and
King, 2003; Scott, 2004; Zukin, 1995). Others
see cultural industries as a means for boosting
self-confidence and community empowerment (Evans and Foord, 2006; Huber et al.,
1992). Culture has, in short, emerged as a key
component in local development strategies.
However, regeneration and economic development policies based on cultural industries

Jonathan Denis-Jacob is in the Spatial Analysis and Regional Economics Laboratory, Centre
Urbanisation Culture et Socit, National Institute of Scientific Research, University of Quebec, 385
rue Sherbrooke Est, Montral, Qubec, Canada H2X 1E3. E-mail:
0042-0980 Print/1360-063X Online
2011 Urban Studies Journal Limited
DOI: 10.1177/0042098011402235
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98Jonathan Denis-Jacob

have not been successful in all places. This

limited success is attributed, on the one hand,
to the exaggerated hope placed in culture-led
regeneration (Hall, 2000; Scott, 2004), but
also to the fact that cultural industries do not
necessarily flourish in all places. Indeed, cultural industries remain heavily concentrated
in a handful of cities at the top of the urban
hierarchy (Hall, 1998; Scott, 1999; Sereda,
2007). Research on the location of cultural
industries has traditionally focused on the
largest metropolitan areas. Yet recent studies have shown that some small cities also
exhibit high numbers of creative industries
and workers (Hills Strategies, 2006; Nelson,
2005; Petrov, 2007; Power, 2002). However,
these studies are either descriptive in nature
or look at creative occupations in general,
without differentiating between cultural/
creative sectors. More research is needed to
understand the rationale behind the location
of cultural workers employed in different sectors in small cities.
This paper looks at workers in 13 cultural
industries in small Canadian urban areas,
using employment data drawn from the 2006
Canadian census, with the aim of increasing
our understanding of their location factors
in these places. Six explanatory factors are
considered and tested as possible predictors
for the strong presence of cultural workers in
small cities: size, location, the work culture,
public-sector choices, amenities and elderly

Why Size Matters

Cultural industries are usually thought of as
metropolitan functions and evidence shows
that they are indeed. In North America, the
share of cultural employment in total employment is significantly higher in metropolitan
areas than elsewhere (Sereda, 2007). In the
UK, London accounts for a disproportionate
share of cultural employment (Pratt, 1997a,
1997b). Scott (2000) observed that about half

of cultural workers in the US were found in

urban areas with populations over a million,
with the majority concentrated in the two largest, New York and Los Angeles. City size can
therefore determine cities ability to attract
and develop cultural industries.
The concentration of cultural employment
in large metro areas must be addressed both
at the worker and at the firm levels. At the
worker level, the necessity of agglomeration
and of being near other talented and creative
people is central to the discussion around
the role of size (Castells, 1996; Hall, 2000).
The uncertainty associated with contractual
and freelance employment in the cultural
sector is a factor. Since a large proportion of
cultural workers are hired as freelancers, on
a short-term basis (Scott, 2004), they require
being in a place where they can keep abreast
of current trends and employment opportunities, including through social networking activities (Christopherson, 2002). By the
same token, many cultural workers, especially
artists, work across industries, making thick
employment centres more suitable for their
professional needs (Markusen and Schrock,
2006). The attraction of particular lifestyles
and amenities constitutes another factor
explaining the agglomeration of workers in
metro areas (Sassen, 1994). At the firm level,
explanations lie in the nature of their organisational structure. Many cultural industries
are characterised by flexible specialisation
(Storper and Christopherson, 1987; Shapiro
et al., 1992; Scott, 1999), an organisational
structure centred around a web of small,
independent and highly specialised firms
dealing with non-standardised production,
constantly interacting with one another and
able to adjust rapidly to changes in their
industry. Central to this model is the role
of outsourcing and contractual production
(Storper and Christopherson, 1987). Many
traditionally vertically integrated organisations, such as those in broadcasting and publishing, now externalise a considerable part

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of their production to smaller independent

firms, a practice that allows increased flexibility, specialised expertise and reduced production costs. This outsourcing process has led to
a substantial growth in the number of small
and specialised producers organised around
competitivecomplementary relationships
(Scott, 2004), resulting in further concentration in metro areas. For many small cultural
firms, some degree of spatial proximity is
essential because of the weight of specialised
labour, tacit knowledge, face-to-face contacts
and access to non-codified information.
Individual skills in cultural industries are
often the results of experience learning and
knowledge spill-over processes (Wenting,
2008), both of which usually require personal
Finally, the fall of transport and communication costs over the past decades has accelerated the concentration of cultural production
in the largest metro areas (Krugman, 1991;
Sassen, 1994). The location choice of many
economic activities is the result of a trade-off
between economies of scale (from the concentration of production in one place) and
the cost of transporting the output (Polese
and Shearmur, 2005). For cultural industries,
for which outputs travel at almost no cost
across space, the largest metro areas become
the optimal locations, allowing them fully to
realise economies of scale.
In short, the odds are clearly stacked against
small places. However, an emerging literature
looks at so-called cultural-creative clusters
beyond the metropolis using quantitative
(Gibson and Connell, 2004; Hills Strategies,
2006; Nelson, 2005; Petrov, 2007; Power, 2002;
Waitt, 2006; Wojan, 2006) and qualitative
case study approaches (Evans and Foord,
2006; Gibson and Connell, 2004; Waitt and
Gibson, 2009). While most authors generally
acknowledge the overwhelming dominance of
large metropolitan areas in cultural production, they all point to the rise of some small
cities in cultural/creative industries.

Why Cultural Employment in

Small Cities?
The location of industries in small urban
areas has traditionally been associated with
the so-called crowding-out effect, a progressive out-migration (from the metropolis) of
economic activities (mostly manufacturing
and back-office activities) seeking out more
affordable land and labour costs in mid- and
small-sized cities (Henderson, 1997). Yet,
there has been no evidence to suggest that
high costs are systematically pushing cultural industries out of major metro areas as
they remain the primary places for cultural
production. Other factors, beyond urban size
and production costs, should be considered
to explain the presence of cultural workers
beyond the metropolis.
First, size together with location within a
certain threshold around large metropolitan
areas (100150 km) has proven meaningful in
explaining the location patterns of economic
activity in Canada and beyond (see Polse
and Shearmur, 2004; Polse and Champagne,
1999). For many economic activities, small size
and proximity to the metropolis are a double
advantage which permits both reduced operating costs (relative to the metropolis) and
easy access to metropolitan business functions
(Henderson, 1997). For cultural workers however, location with respect to metropolises is
not merely about production and transport
costs, but more about the very nature of work
and organisational structures. A significant
number of cultural firms are characterised
by flexible organisational structures where
individuals build their own schedule and do
not necessarily work from a fixed location.
Sectors such as the arts and film and video
production come to mind as activities which
can partly be produced from anywhere given
their low transport cost. However, although
a cultural worker/firm may produce and
create from an isolated location, chances are
slim to get new contacts in the same place.

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100Jonathan Denis-Jacob

This is where proximity to the large metro

area comes in. For those individuals taking
advantage of this flexibility and locating in
non-metropolitan settings, location on the
edge of the metropolis (say within a 100150
km radius) makes sense as frequent face-toface interactions with clients, partners and
institutions remain possible. Centrally located
small urban areas are therefore more likely
to capture those do-not-want-to-be-in-themetropolis cultural workers.
Yet location creates both opportunities and
disadvantages for small cities, depending on
how far away or close enough they are, relative to the large city. Waitt and Gibson (2009)
found that Wollongong in Australia has been
unsuccessful in developing a vibrant cultural
economy due in part to its close proximity
to Sydney, which keeps attracting most of
Wollongongs cultural workers and consumers.
Conversely, for small peripheral cities, distance
is a handicap as they often lack the market to
sustain year-round cultural activities, being
too far from metropolitan areas (Evans and
Foord, 2006). For instance, peripheral cities
such as Inverness (Scotland) or Timmins
(Ontario) suffer from their remote location,
being unable to attract metropolitan audiences
to local cultural events and activities.
A second possible factor is the absence
of a blue-collar legacy. Cultural industries
constitute a relatively new type of activities
in that they deal mainly with aesthetic and
semiotic dimensions (Scott, 2004). Their work
and organisational culture is hence different
from that of resource-based, construction
and heavy manufacturing industries. This
suggests that, in cities with a strong bluecollar culture, developing skills and interests
that are suitable for the cultural sector may
not be an easy task. Waitt and Gibson (2009)
argue that Wollongong, Australia, failed to
become a vibrant cultural production centre
partly because of the weight of industries such
as mining and manufacturing in the local
economy. The masculine culture prevailing

in Wollongong perceived culture as being

soft and associated with leisure and entertainment. Similarly, Middleton and Freestone
(2008), in a study of culture-led regeneration
strategies on local identity in Newcastle,
found that the local population, a significant
part of whom are blue-collar workers, lacked
interest and felt disenfranchised about them.
Thirdly, public-sector choices can be
another factor. In Canada and elsewhere,
governments and public agencies play a major
role in the cultural sector. Several industries,
such as the arts, heritage institutions, TV and
radio broadcasting as well as motion picture, video and music production are either
heavily subsidised by or organised around
public institutions. In small capital cities in
particular, government expenditures in cultural infrastructures and activities can play a
major role in the local economy (Coish, 2004;
Nelson, 2005; Petrov, 2007). Because public
cultural institutions are usually located in
capital cities, industries such as the arts and
related services and heritage institutions can
be expected to employ a higher than average
percentage of people in small cities with a
capital status. Furthermore, some small capital cities in Canada are the largest city in their
province as well as the administrative centre
(Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is an
example). These urban areas benefit from
their central place role in cultural production,
making them the only place where cultural
production genuinely takes place in the
province. Also, the occupational structure of
capital cities is generally different from that of
non-capital cities (Carroll and Meyer, 1982).
Capital cities usually have a higher share of
professionals and service-sector workers with
higher wages and a taste for culture. By the
same token, location choices of public corporations such as the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation (CBC-SRC) can benefit small
cities. Several small-sized urban areas are the
home of a CBC/SRC radio or television channel to serve local markets.

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Fourthly, the presence of certain types

of urban and natural amenities may also
influence the location of cultural workers.
Considerable attention has been paid to
amenity-based location choices (Gibson,
2002; Florida, 2002b; Heilburn, 1996; Lewis
and Donald, 2010; Markusen and Schrock,
2006; Nelson, 2005). Although much of the
discourse on amenities in recent years is
related to the creative class theory and has
focused primarily on large metropolitan
areas, amenities are increasingly a factor
explaining location choices in small cities.
Amenity and lifestyle factors have even proven
meaningful in explaining the rapid growth of
some small Ontario towns around Toronto
(Wilkinson and Murray, 1991; Dahms and
McComb, 1999). It is argued that cultural
and creative workers prefer (and can afford)
living in attractive natural environments (i.e.
coastline and lakefront, mountain landscapes)
and in those with a small-town atmosphere
(traditional urban fabrics and vibrant downtowns). From this perspective, location in
small urban areas would be based on lifestyle
preferences rather than merely on industry
imperatives (Dahms, 1998; Gottlieb, 1994),
choices made possible by increased mobility, flexible work practices and electronic
communications (Dahms, 1998; Markusen
and Schrock, 2006; van Oort et al., 2003).
Although not all cultural workers benefit from
flexible conditions, more do than in other
industries. Many designers, artists and writers, especially those who are self-employed,
can easily produce from anywhere. Amenities,
however, can hardly be detached from proximity to large metro areas. A place may be
beautiful but will not become a desirable
residential location if remote because, as discussed earlier, proximity to large metro areas
still matters. Yet not all small towns located
around metro areas are cultural hotspots. This
is where amenities come in. Centrally located
places with amenities may therefore prove
attractive locations for a number of cultural

workers. This recalls Friedmann (1973) and

his urban field concept, an ecological unit
comprised within a 150160 km radius from
metro areas where residential settlement
takes place based on lifestyle, employment
and mobility. Within the urban field, people
seek out locations where they can both create customised residential environments and
interact with the metropolis (Dahms, 1998).
As well as attraction factors based on amenities, the lower cost of living (relative to large
metro areas) makes small places appealing to
cultural and creative workers (Dahms, 1998;
Markusen and Schrock, 2006).
Lastly, a fifth possible factor is the presence
of elderly populations which has been put
forward as a predictor for cultural consumption (Beyers, 2002; Ewoudou, 2005) and
growth in small towns and rural areas (Frey,
1993; Dahms, 1998). Elderly, and even more
so retirees, have abundant leisure time and,
often, financial resources and therefore a
greater propensity to consume given cultural
activities. Their propensity to produce given
cultural products is also greater as activities
such as the arts can be produced for both leisure and professional purposes. More flexible
(and appealing) work practices in cultural
industries have led many to extend their
professional activities beyond retirement.
Furthermore, elderly populations are more
likely to locate in non-metropolitan areas
being seldom constrained by a job location
(Frey, 1993). In addition, elderly populations
often play a central role in small town community life, including in heritage preservation
and the local art scene. However, there could
be an overlap with amenities as location
choices after retirement can also be based on
them. For instance, Elliott Lake (Ontario)
has been successful in attracting important
elderly populations in recent years because
of its natural attributes. Similarly, Port Hope,
Cobourg (Ontario) and Parksville (B.C.) have
also become the home of an important retired
community because of their amenities.

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102Jonathan Denis-Jacob

Study Area, Data and

Study Area and Data

The study examines all Canadian urban areas

(144) with populations above 10000, classified as census metropolitan areas (CMAs)
or census agglomerations (CAs) focusing on
small cities (109) with populations below
100000. The employment data, drawn from
the 2006 census, are by the place of residence
(not place of work) and therefore account
for the number of cultural workers living in
small cities. The intended goal was to look at
the location patterns of cultural industries
in small cities; however, given the limitations
of the data available (by place of residence,
not place of work), this has not been possible and the residential location of cultural
workers was finally retained. The data are
organised around 13 cultural industries coded
at the 4-digit 1997 NAICS (North American
Industry Classification) level. Industries
were chosen over occupations in line with
a growing literature which refers to cultural
production as an industrial production system (Pratt, 1997a; Power, 2002; Evans, 2001).
In effect, cultural production does not merely
rely on artists and creative people, but also on
many others who are also central to the production process (managers, technical staff and
so on). Occupations, on the other hand, are
useful to study work tasks and where specific
professional groups tend to locate, but fail to
capture fully the total employment in given
industries. Therefore, industries were chosen
over occupations because they permit one to
draw a more accurate picture of the scope of
cultural employment in small cities.
Adopting a meaningful definition is a challenge given the definitional debates surrounding cultural industries (Hesmondhalgh and
Pratt, 2005; OConnor, 1999; Pratt, 1997a,
1997b; Scott, 2004). Definitions differ between
researchers, depending on their specific aims,
and between nations using different national

industry classification systems, making consistent international definitions difficult

(Bryan et al., 2000). Only cultural industries
concerned with the transmission of signs and
symbols (Bourdieu, 1971; Hesmondhalgh
and Pratt, 2005), those which provide goods
and services whose subjective meaning is high
in comparison with their utilitarian purpose
and those for which the aesthetic content and
sign-value to the consumer are important
(Scott, 2004) are examined. In other words,
the study focuses on industries where the
creation of cultural content is central to the
value chain. Thirteen cultural industries are
selected and grouped into nine sub-sectors to
simplify the analysis (Table 1).
The classification is largely inspired by
that of Coishs (2004) study of Canadas
metropolitan culture clusters whose 17
cultural classes are based on the definition
of cultural goods and services proposed
by the Canadian Framework for Cultural
Statistics (Statistics Canada, 2004). Four
classes from Coishs (2004) definition
(printing and related support activities,
Table 1. Employment in the cultural
industries in Canadian cities, 2006
Cultural industries
Book, periodical and music
Newspaper, periodical, book
and database publishers
Motion picture, video and
sound recording industries
Radio and television
Pay TV, specialty TV and
programme distribution
Specialised design services
Advertising and related services
The arts and related services
Heritage institutions
Total (all cultural industries)

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in 144 cities


manufacturing and reproducing magnetic

and optical media, information services as
well as architectural and landscape architectural services) were excluded because they
mainly include non-cultural employment.
Other business-to-business activities, such as
advertising and design, have been included
because they are mainly concerned with the
creation of value through symbolism and/
or aesthetics and because an important part
of their value chain includes creative and
cultural inputs.
The data are by place of residence, not
place of production, therefore data must be
interpreted as the location of cultural workers. Because some cultural workers may live
in a small city but work elsewhere, the data
constitute a risk if interpreted as if they related
to the place of production. This is not so much
of an issue for large metropolitan areas or
small peripheral urban areas, but can be for
small cities located near urban centres. For
that reason, the study looks at the residential
location of workers employed in cultural
industries as opposed to the distribution of
cultural production.
The data feature some limitations. First,
industrial classification systems are not
necessarily well suited to the identification
of cultural employment (Evans, 2001;
Scott, 2000). Many features of cultural
industries (part-time, contractual and freelance employment, multiple job occupancy,
multiple job locations, home-based employment and so on) are difficult to capture
adequately via industry classification systems. Furthermore, many cultural sectors
overlap with non-cultural activities, notably
advertising (with public relations activities),1
publishing (with database publishing) and
heritage institutions (with zoological and
botanical gardens and amusement parks).
Zoological and botanical gardens and amusement parks are arguably leisure activities and
more scientific than some of cultural production already broadly defined.


Both descriptive statistics (locations quotients)

and regression models are employed to assess
the role of each factor on the strong presence
of cultural workers in small cities.2 Following
the presentation of the location quotients
(per industry and city-size class) these are
then entered as dependent variables in the
regressions. Nine regression models were built
(one for all cultural industries and one for
each cultural industry) and applied to the 109
urban areas with populations under 100000.

Descriptive Analysis: Small Cities

with Big Cultural Numbers
Figure 1 both confirms and questions the role
of city size for cultural industries. The statistical relationship between cultural employment (location quotient: all industries) is
positive, but the R2 is fairly low, leaving ample
room for other explanations.3 We can see that
some of the smallest cities exhibit a similar
(or even higher) location quotient than the
largest metro areas (Toronto, Montreal and
Vancouver). Canmore (Alberta) and Stratford
(Ontario) are the most notable cases. With a
population of about 30000, both cities exhibit
the highest location quotients in total cultural
employment with 1.65 and 1.51 respectively.
Other cities under 30000 also have relatively
high scores for their size; Port Hope, Ontario
(1.06),Whitehorse, YT (1.00), Nanaimo,
BC (0.97), Elliot Lake, Ontario (0.97) and
Yellowknife, NWT (0.95). In comparison, the
large metro areas of Quebec City and Calgary
display scores of 0.94 and 0.92 respectively.
The limited R2 (0.201) tells us that we should
look to explanations beyond city size, to which
we now turn.
In Tables 2 and 3, we employ a grouping
technique taken from Polese and Shearmur
(2004) where urban areas are grouped based
on city size and distance to the closest Top
8 census metropolitan areas (CMA).4 Four
groups of cities are created and a location

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104Jonathan Denis-Jacob

Figure 1. Relationship between cultural specialisation and size.

Notes: Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.461 (significant at the 0.01 level); regression analysis:
R = 0.201; adjusted R2 = 0.195.

quotient is calculated for each one. Distance

is calculated with a distance matrix on the
road network using GIS. Cities are central
when within 200 km of, and peripheral when
beyond 200 km from, a Top 8 metro area.
Small cities are defined as those with a population below 100000 and the smaller cities as
those under 30000 people.
The 200 km cut-off and the population
thresholds have been determined for three
main reasons. First, a minimum number of
20 urban areas and a minimum population of
400000 per group were needed to ensure the
accuracy of the analysis. Too few observations
in each group would have given too much
weight to specific cities with extreme scores.
In addition, the 30 000 threshold permitted

a relatively even distribution between groups

of above 30000 (50 units) and below 30000
(59 units). Secondly, the 200 km cut-off
takes into account the reality of occasional
commuting and travel patterns. On the road
system, depending on driving conditions, 200
km correspond to a two-hour journey to or
from the metropolis. This distance permits
commuting to the metropolis on an irregular
basis. Thirdly, tests have been made for 150
km, 200 km, 250 km and 300 km as well as
for different sizes. The population threshold
of 30000 and the distance cut-off of 200 km
have provided the most meaningful results.
Table 3 shows that small urban areas have
higher than average location quotients in
only three sectors (heritage institutions, the

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Table 2. Synthetic groups of small urban areas based on city size and distance
Synthetic regions:
urban areas
Small central
Small peripheral
Very small central
Very small peripheral


Distance from
Top 8 metro (km)




100 00031000
100 00031000
Below 31000
Below 31000

Within 200
Beyond 200
Within 200
Beyond 200




arts and related services and radio and TV

broadcasting). Heritage institutions and the
arts and related services exhibit particularly
high LQs in central cities with a population below 30000 people. Proximity to the
metropolis provides cultural workers (and
organisations) with easy access to a diversity
of resources they may not find in a small city
(Canmore, Alberta, and Port Hope, Ontario,
are examples). On the other hand, the LQ for
employment in radio and TV broadcasting is
higher in peripheral cities with a population
below 30000. This industry, unlike PAY TV,
depends on local content, including local
news and advertisements, and therefore
requires proximity to local communities. In
contrast, employment in PAY TV is concentrated in Toronto and Montrealand almost
non-existent in small urban areasas it relies
on national subscriptions. Peripheral cities
such as Whitehorse (YT), Yellowknife (NWT)
and Rimouski (Quebec) clearly benefit from
the protection effect of distance with location
quotients of 2.3, 2.5 and 1.6 respectively.

The Regression Models

Nine regression models were built using
SPSS where the dependent variable is a location quotient per industry. The models are
performed for all 109 census agglomerations
(CAs) with populations below 100000 but
over 10000. The explanatory factors already
discussed are expressed via six independent
variables (including logged city size). The
operationalisation of these factors is the main
challenge and is discussed further.
The median housing value in 2005 is used as
a proxy for the attractiveness of a citys urban
and natural environment, therefore for the
presence of amenities. The presence of natural
amenities such as mountains, lakes and forests
or urban amenities such as a well-preserved
historical town centre and a small-town
character increasingly constitutes a powerful
predictor for high land values (Clark, 2000).
We implicitly assume that (urban and natural)
amenities are capitalised in housing values.
In Canada, unlike in the US, the quality of

Table 3. Location quotients of cultural industries, by synthetic groups of small urban areas
Cultural Sectors
All cultural industries
Books, periodical and music stores
Motion picture, video and sound
Radio/TV broadcasting
Pay TV
Advertising and design
The arts and related services
Heritage institutions



Very small

Very small





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106Jonathan Denis-Jacob

public services (schools, hospitals and police

forces) plays almost no role in property values
as they rarely vary in quality from one place
to another, being run and/or funded by provincial governments. Variations in property
values in small cities are most likely to be
related to the presence of specific amenities
highly sought out by residential populations.
A correlation analysis has been performed
and suggests that size and median housing
values are not correlated for urban areas
below 100000 (see Table 4). Except for a few
cases (such as Woods Buffalo, Alberta, and
Yellowknife, NWT) where property prices
are higher because of characteristics of the
local economy (the presence of natural
resources and government functions), most
other urban areas with high median housing
values are indeed known for their residential
attractiveness. Note that distance from the
Top 8 metro areas and housing values are
negatively correlated, confirming that the
residential attractiveness of small cities is
tied to proximity to large metro areas. The
logged distance in km from the nearest
Top 8 metro areas, calculated on the road
network using GIS, is used to determine
the role of location with respect to major
metro areas.
The percentage of blue-collar workers is
used to assess the effect of the so-called class
legacy on cultural employment. This variable
captures blue-collar occupations from the
National Occupational Classification (NOC-S)
2006. Occupations have been chosen over

industries to isolate blue-collar workers

from white-collar occupations in the same
industries. Some cities may have similarsized employment numbers in one industry,
but with different occupational structures
(blue collars vs managers in the pulp mill
industry, for instance). Occupations are
therefore better suited for assessing the
impact of the so-called blue-collar work
culture. Small urban areas with lower shares
of employment in blue-collar occupations
are expected to score higher than those with
high blue-collar employment numbers in
terms of cultural employment. Peripheral
urban areas would be expected to rely more
on blue-collar occupations than those near
large metropolitan areas given their dependence on natural resources. However, distance
and the percentage of blue-collar workers are
not strongly correlated (Table 5).
The percentage of population aged 65 years
and older is used as a proxy for the presence of
an important retired population. Although we
could expect some circularity between elderly
populations and amenities, the correlation
analysis confirms a weak relationship, suggesting that not all amenity-rich towns are
retirement communities.
A dummy is used as a control variable for
the four capital cities with populations below
100000 residents (Fredericton, Charlottetown,
Whitehorse, Yellowknife). A dummy variable is
used for the presence of the CBC/SRC station
in the model for radio and TV broadcasting
because it plays a central role in this industry.

Table 4. Correlation analysis on independent variables (N = 109)

Correlation coefficients
1 Total population (2006)
2 Median housing value ($)
3 CBC/SRC dummy
4 Distance (km)
5 Capital cities
6 Elderly (percentage)
7 Blue-collar workers (percentage)




-0.28** 0.07
0.37** 0.32** -0.29**
-0.26** -0.25** 1.00
-0.36** -0.06

Note: ** significant at 0.01.

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Table 5. Correlation between independent and dependent variables (correlations are

presented in the same order as in Table 4)
Independent variables
Dependent variable (LQ)

Total cultural employment

Book, periodical and music
Newspaper, periodical,
book and database
Motion picture, video,
sound recording
Radio and TV broadcasting -0.149 -0.031
Pay TV, specialty TV and
programme distribution
Design and advertising
0.208* 0.388**
The arts and related services 0.010
Heritage institutions









0.323** -0.195*





0.493** 0.301** 0.260** -0.097


-0.280** 0.057
-0.237* 0.178



Notes: *significant at 0.05; **significant at 0.01.

The results suggest relatively different R
values between industries. The most robust
models (as measured by the adjusted R2) are
those of the arts and related services (0.421),
all cultural industries (0.360), radio and TV
broadcasting (0.274) and advertising and
design (0.210). Results show that the six
variables have little effect on the location
of workers in motion picture, video and
sound recording and pay TV as they are
mainly concentrated in major metro areas
and almost non-existent in small cities.
Surprisingly, the models for heritage institutions and book, periodical and music stores
are not robust, despite high employment
numbers in small-sized urban areas. Let us
now turn to the regression coefficients for
each variable (Table 6).
Size is only significant for advertising and
design and does not appear to play a role in
any other sector. Distance with respect to large
metro areas is not significant in any model.
As discussed earlier, location with respect to
metropolitan areas may have contradictory

effects depending on the attributes of cultural

goods or services. We observed that urban
areas with similar locations (central or peripheral) exhibited quite dissimilar cultural
specialisation scores. Examples are Stratford
and Ingersoll in Ontario. Both towns lie
approximately 150 km south-west of Toronto.
The former is the second most specialised in
cultural employment, whereas the latter has
the lowest score of any urban areas. The same
holds true for peripheral cities. Whitehorse
and Yellowknife exhibit high scores in several
sectors, while Thompson (Manitoba) is at the
very bottom in all rankings. Location matters
for attracting cultural workers, but is seldom
sufficient to ensure success.
The role of elderly populations is significant
for: all cultural industries, publishing, motion
picture, video/sound recording and the arts
and related services. The findings for these
industries suggest that elderly populations
have an effect on industries characterised
by flexible specialisation, freelance employment and those which can be produced
for both leisure and professional purposes.
Retirement centres such as Elliot Lake, Port

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108Jonathan Denis-Jacob

Table 6. Regression models: summary

Variables: Standardised coefficients

All cultural
Book, periodical
and music stores
Motion picture,
video and sound
Radio and TV
Pay TV
Advertising and
The arts and
related services

N Adjusted Log Log size Housing

107 0.360

0.012 -0.066


105 0.045



107 0.131
107 0.092

0.011 -0.046
0.121 -0.114


109 0.274

0.124 -0.132



Capital Percentage Percentage CBC

of blue of elderly dummy















106 0.006
108 0.210



0.329** 0.091




105 0.421








108 0.028

-0.035 -0.025 -0.022





Notes: Outliers have been removed from some models because of their extreme values. ** significant
at 0.01; * significant at 0.05.

Hope, Cobourg and Collingwood (Ontario)

all exhibit high scores of cultural employment. This confirms the hypothesis that
elderly populations have a greater ability to
engage in cultural industries in small cities
because of their greater liberty to live outside
metro areas.
The results suggest that small capital cities are more likely to have a higher share
of cultural employment, consistent with
expectations. Being a capital is a predictor
for all cultural industries, motion picture,
video/sound recording, the arts and related
services and heritage institutions. The presence of public cultural institutions (concert
halls, museums, art galleries) in the small
capital cities of Whitehorse, Yellowknife,
Charlottetown and Fredericton pushes up
cultural employment. Yet public expenditures in the arts and culture are not the
only reasons why these cities specialise to a

greater extent in cultural industries. These

four cities are also the central place of their
province. These urban areas exhibit high specialisation scores in the visitor-dependent
sectors (the arts and heritage institutions)
because they are often the only location
where they take place in their province
(Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Charlottetown
are examples).
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/
Socit Radio-Canada (CBC/SRC) dummy is
the only significant one in the model for radio
and TV broadcasting, confirming its central
role in the specialisation of small peripheral
cities in this industry. It should be emphasised, however, that most urban areas with a
CBC/SRC station are central places in their
respective region. TV and radio broadcasting
is a sector which requires a certain degree of
proximity with local communities because
of local news and advertisements. Although

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production aimed at national audiences is

centralised in Toronto and Montreal for the
most part (for example, national news and
entertainment programmes), location in
peripheral urban areas is essential to ensure
local content for these communities. However,
not all peripheral central places have a CBC/
SRC station. Peripheral places such as Vernon,
BC, and Estevan, Saskatchewan, are central
places in their region but have no or little
employment in this industry. Other cities
have benefited from the location choices of
the CBC/SRC.
The class legacy explanation cannot be
rejected for cultural industries. The results
suggest that cities with high shares of employment in blue-collar occupations are less specialised in all cultural industries, radio and
TV broadcasting and pay TV. Cultural workers in general are hence less likely to locate in
places with a strong blue-collar work culture.
Canmore (Alberta), Elliot Lake (Ontario) and
Owen Sound (Ontario) are examples of places
with lower than average blue-collar occupation numbers and high cultural employment
figures. In contrast, urban areas with very
high numbers in blue-collar occupations
such as Woods Buffalo (Alberta) and Estevan
(Saskatchewan) have few cultural workers.
Surprisingly, the variable is not significant
for other core creative sectors such as the
arts and related services and motion picture,
video/sound recording. Housing value (a
proxy for amenities) is significant for all cultural industries, publishing, advertising and
design, and the arts and related services. This
confirms the footlooseness of cultural workers in given sectors and their preference for
amenity-rich environments, probably because
of their flexible work conditions and ability
to telework. This also suggests that workers
in these sectors can afford higher land values
in amenity-rich communities.
Figure 2 shows that most small urban
areas with location quotients near or above
1 also have high housing values. Cities such

as Stratford, Port Hope, Centre Wellington,

Collingwood, Cobourg and Tilsonburg are
known to be attractive places because of their
small-town atmosphere and well-preserved
urban fabric. Similarly, places like Canmore,
Nanaimo, Parksville and Owen Sound are
considered highly desirable places in which
to live because of their natural amenities. For
example, location in Collingwood, Centre
Wellington, Parksville and Port Hope has
proven suitable for design and advertising
workers (and firms) as they offer both a
pleasant place to live, work and play, and
proximity to corporate headquarters in
Vancouver and Toronto.
Workers in the arts and related services
follow a similar logic. Many small towns,
including Stratford, Cobourg (Ontario) and
Canmore (Alberta), are effectively the homes
of Canadian artists and cultural personalities.
Stratford, Ontario, is a notable example of an
amenity-rich town which continues to attract
cultural workers. The town, located half-way
between Toronto and Detroit, is famous for
its well-preserved historical town centre and
its Shakespeare Festival. With a location quotient of 6.1 in workers in the arts and related
services, the town is the most specialised of
any Canadian city. It also has above average
scores in book, periodical and music stores
and publishing. Canmore (Alberta) is another
interesting case. The town lies an hour and a
half from Calgary and is the gateway to the
Banff National park. Its beautiful natural
setting has made it one of the most desirable
residential locations in the country, especially
for those passionate about outdoor activities (skiing and hiking in particular). The
town scores high in all cultural industries,
book, periodical and music stores, publishing, the arts and heritage institutions. Wood
Buffalo (Alberta), Whitehorse (Yukon) and
Yellowknife (Northwest Territories), on the
other hand, are not amenity-based residential locations but places where property
values are driven by the local economic base

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110Jonathan Denis-Jacob

Figure 2. Relationship between median housing value and cultural specialisation in

small cities.
Notes: Pearson correlation coefficient: 0.496 (significant at 0.01).

(dependent on government services and/or

natural resources).

Conclusion and Discussion

This paper examined the residential location
of cultural workers in small Canadian urban
areas. The results suggest that the strong presence of cultural workers is clearly not merely
a matter of size. While most cultural workers
remain concentrated in major metropolitan
areas, some small cities are also successful in
attracting them. Small places such as Stratford
(Ontario), Canmore (Alberta), Port Hope
(Ontario) and Nanaimo (BC) have indeed
a high share of their working population
employed in cultural industries. The six

explanatory factors exhibit great variability

depending on the industry. However, for
all cultural industries taken as a whole, the
presence of amenities, the absence of a bluecollar work culture and the presence of a large
elderly population are positive predictors of
large cultural worker populations in small
urban areas. Being a capital city is also an
advantage as capital cities benefit from the
presence of government cultural institutions.
The results also suggest that location in
non-metropolitan places is facilitated by the
flexible organisational and work structures
of some cultural industries. For workers
employed in industries such as publishing,
advertising and design and the arts and related
activities, location decisions appear to be

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made based on residential preferences rather

than merely on production imperatives.
Hence, the presence of (urban and natural)
amenities appears to be a selling point for
many cultural workers locating in small cities.
Moreover, elderly populations play a central
role in the cultural sector as a whole, as well
as in publishing, motion picture, video/sound
recording and the arts and related services by
being willing and able to locate outside metro
areas. Although not significant, proximity to
the metropolis remains essential to maintain
a link with a workplace, clients or/and partners, as most small cities with high scores are
located within 200 km of a Top 8 metro area.
These findings are in line with current
discussions around the rise of a residential
economy (Davezies, 2009), where location
decisions are increasingly made based on lifestyle and residential preferences made possible
by an increasingly footloose population. In
effect, the results raise several questions about
the increasingly unclear distinction between
places of work and places of residence in the
cultural economy. With such flexible and
unstable work conditions in many industries, the very notion of localised production
becomes fuzzy. While it is still obvious that
large metropolitan areas remain the main
nodes of cultural production, the rise of small
cities as sites of cultural workers residence
and, potentially, cultural production, confirms
the emergence of new forms of relationship
between work, production, leisure and living.
This, however, remains difficult to capture
with this study and therefore further quantitative and qualitative research would be needed.
The use of quantitative data by place of production would determine the extent to which
cultural production genuinely takes place
outside metro areas. In addition, qualitative
research, through interviews with cultural and
creative workers living in small cities, could
confirm the relevance of the location factors
from a personal perspective. Special attention
could also be devoted to the nature of their

professional practice (employment status,

work schedule) in order to determine whether
patterns can be identified, including between
industries. Finally, the type and frequency
of interaction with the metropolis (number
of monthly visits, clients and collaborators,
metropolitan resources sought out, etc.) could
be further investigated in order to understand
the genuine role of small cities in a growing
cultural landscape.

1. Specialised design services and advertising
and related services are also put together in
all analyses because they arguably constitute
high-order services, aiming at firms and
companies, rather than the general public.
Although their activities are different, we
argue that their nature is relatively similar in
that they require frequent contacts with and
feedback from their clients, deal mostly with
custom-made production and are concerned
with the creation of value through symbolism
and/or aesthetics.
2. The location quotient (LQ) is a measure of
specialisation of a citys share of employment
in a given industry relative to the national
average. When above 1, specialisation is higher
than the national norm, at 1 it is equal and
below 1 it is lower.
3. A regression analysis has been used to test
the relationship between size and cultural
specialisation. The natural logarithm has
been used for both city size (total population
in 2006) and cultural specialisation (LQ for
all cultural industries) to correct for the
imbalance in variable distributions.
4. The top eight metropolitan areas are Toronto,
Montreal, Vancouver, OttawaGatineau,
Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City and Winnipeg.

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