Contribution of Cultural Tourism to the Economy

Statistics Canada reports the GDP of each province and industry. The following table shows the culture GDP and number of culture jobs in Ontario between 2010 and 2014.

The difference between Culture GDP and GDP of Culture Industries is that Culture GDP refers to any value added by culture products regardless of industry, whereas GDP of Culture Industries includes both culture products and non-culture products in culture industry. For example, food and beverage sales at a music concert would be included in the GDP of Culture Industries, but not in the Culture GDP. The same difference is true between Culture Jobs and Jobs in Culture Industries.

Ontario 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Culture GDP (millions of dollars) 21,921.1 22,940.2 23,355.3 24,545.0 25,297.7
GDP of Culture Industries (millions of dollars) 23,816.8 24,777.7 25,479.3 26,718.7 27,732.7
Culture Jobs 266,882 271,513 270,957 277,772 276,083
Jobs in Culture Industries 288,815 294,126 293,650 302,788 301,933

Source: Statistics Canada. Provincial and Territorial Cultural Indicators, 2010-2014
Retrieved from

The Tourism Partnership of Ontario reports that in 2014, there were 12.3 million cultural visits in Ontario, representing 8.8% of total visits in Ontario. Cultural visitors spend $6.5 billion, accounting for 27% of total visitor spending in Ontario.

The majority of cultural visits (75%) were overnight visits, compared to 36% of non-culture visits. Cultural visitors also spent an average of 2 more nights than all visitors. Cultural visitors also spent significantly more per trip ($527/trip versus $171/trip).

Source: Tourism Partnership of Niagara. Ontario Cultural Tourism Report (MTCS – 2014)
Retrieved from:

Several Niagara-based arts, culture and heritage organizations measure and report on their economic impact.  The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines are two examples.

  • The Shaw Festival Theatre employs approximately 600 people at the height of the season. It is estimated that Shaw Festival has contributed $100 million locally and $106.6 million to Ontario’s economy. Shaw Festival visitors spent over $42.8 million on regional accommodations, dining, winery visits, and other tourism-related experiences. Event-related spending supports the equivalent of 1,107 full-year jobs, the majority being within the arts and hospitality sectors.

Source: Shaw Festival Theatre. Annual Report
Retrieved from:

  • The $60 million FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC), a four-venue facility that includes a 775-seat main theatre and event space opened in St. Catharines in October, 2015. In its first year, PAC hosted over 1,100 ticketed events, sold over 150,000 tickets; and hosted over 200,000 patrons.
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines

Opening (October 29, 2015) to December, 2016

Events and performances Over 1,100 ticketed events, including all concerts
Tickets sold Over 150,000
Patrons hosted Over 200,000
Members – HOT TICKET 867
Members – Film House 869

Source: FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and City of St. Catharines [data file]
Retrieved from:

Consideration of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Economic Strategies and Local Development Plans

Several municipalities have developed Culture Plans to more systematically identify and leverage their cultural resources and integrate their development into local planning and decision-making.

The Niagara Culture Plan (2010) was developed by Niagara Region. This plan lays out four strategic directions:

  1. Creative Economy: Build a diverse economy by strengthening cultural resources and the creative cultural sector to maximize their contribution to economic development.
  2. Creative Places: Encourage analysis and inclusion of cultural places, spaces and activities in land-use planning, infrastructure development and programming to preserve and develop distinct and unique places in Niagara.
  3. Creative People: Support professional development and information sharing for the creative cultural sector and encourage participation in culture across the Niagara community to stimulate innovation, creativity and community engagement.
  4. Creative Identity: Promote awareness, understanding and appreciation of culture and its contribution to the ongoing development of vibrant, unique communities and a shared sense of identity as Niagara.

Source: Niagara Region. Niagara Culture Plan
Retrieved from:

In 2015, the City of Niagara Falls adopted a Culture Plan that acts as a road map for the City to guide future investments in facilities, programs and activities in support of the arts, culture and heritage sector in the municipality. In total, there were 24 recommendations, including the following highlights:

  • Undertake a feasibility study for a Culture Hub, a centralized facility for a range of arts and culture activities
  • Revitalization of Queen Street
  • Development of a database of arts organizations in Niagara Falls

Source: City of Niagara Falls. City of Niagara Falls Culture Plan, 2015.
Retrieved from:

The Town of Pelham’s Cultural Plan (2013) is a strategic planning document that provides a framework of action to direct, sustain and leverage cultural investment in Pelham. In the process of developing the Cultural Plan, 164 cultural resources were identified.

It lays out the following strategic directions to enhance and develop culture in Pelham:

  1. Cultivate community cultural awareness, knowledge-sharing and participation in culture.
  2. Foster creative industry development, growth and attraction.
  3. Develop and enhance cultural spaces and places.
  4. Expand and enhance cultural products and experiences.
  5. Investment and development of culture through town planning.

Source: Town of Pelham. Cultural Master Plan
Retrieved from:

The City of Port Colborne’s Arts and Culture Master Plan (2016) provides the City with a strategy and action plan to leverage its cultural resources. These resources will support a prosperous and sustainable economy, improved quality of life, increased community cohesion and civic pride. It is built on the basis of four strategic directions:

  1. Demonstrate leadership in the community by connecting individuals and organizations working towards shared cultural goals.
  2. Celebrate and enact policy to support community vitality by enhancing the city’s unique cultural spaces and activities.
  3. Increase local and regional awareness of Port Colborne’s depth and range of cultural resources.
  4. Build a strong and collaborative cultural sector to create opportunities and experiences for cultural development that are inclusive and accessible to residents and visitors of all ages.

Source: City of Port Colborne. Arts & Culture Master Plan
Retrieved from:

In 2015, the City of St. Catharines approved Inspire St. Catharines: Culture Plan 2020, which identifies cultural assets and recommends culture-specific priorities to strengthen the sector’s future. It is designed to inform City decision-makers when considering investments, programming, facilities and policies that affect the creative sector, built heritage, and the urban fabric.

Seven priorities were identified in this plan:

  1. Communicate the experiences and value of culture to all St. Catharines’ residents.
  2. Foster participation in arts, heritage and cultural experiences.
  3. Cultivate the growth and development of the creative sector.
  4. Further develop the planning, management and coordination of heritage assets and historical services.
  5. Recognize and embrace the city’s cultural diversity as a cornerstone for civic engagement.
  6. Leverage culture to strengthen St. Catharines’ distinct sense of place and community.
  7. Foster the cross-departmental management and delivery of arts and heritage service delivery, planning and community development.

Source: City of St. Catharines. Inspire St. Catharines: Culture Plan 2020
Retrieved from:

The City of Welland published their Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan in 2006. Within this plan, there are two goals that relate specifically to arts, culture and heritage:

Goal 3: Enhance the development of the arts in Welland.

Goal 9: Continue to protect, enhance and celebrate the City’s natural, built and cultural heritage assets.

Source: City of Welland. Parks, Recreation & Culture Plan Welland
Retrieved from:

Investment in Arts, Culture & Heritage

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Niagara Community Foundation offered a total of $120,000 in Canada 150 grants for local projects that build community, inspire a deeper understanding of Canada, and encourage participation in a wide range of initiatives. These funds were offered as part of a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and the Government of Canada.

Source: Niagara Community Foundation
Retrieved from:

First Round Approvals – Niagara Community Foundation Canada 150 Grants, 2017
Organization Approval Description
City of Niagara Falls – Niagara Falls Museums $9,000 Pieces of Canada: 150 Objects, 150 Stories – Niagara Falls History Museum is gathering 150 objects from the people of Niagara to tell the story of what it is to be Canadian.
City of St. Catharines $12,000 Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Book – editing, design and distribution of a professional standard book of 350 pages, sharing the photos and stories of 137 men who died while constructing the Welland Ship Canal.
City of Welland $6,730 Welland 150 Day Countdown –aims to create excitement and encourage engagement in the community through participation in Canada’s 150th celebrations.
Suitcase in Point Theatre Company $6,900 In the Soil Festival – Celebrating Canada – deliver three high-engagement arts activities to promote community participation and celebrate diverse meanings of being Canadian.
Town of Fort Erie $6,250 Canada 150 Mosaic Project – to celebrate Canada’s 150th, the Town will be creating a mural that will be one of 150 murals across Canada, representing a cultural mosaic, a time capsule, a visual portrayal of history, and an art masterpiece from the soul of the nation.
Town of Lincoln – Jordan Historical Museum $6,120 Between the Lake & the Escarpment: Community Art Exhibit celebrating Lincoln at Canada’s 150th – an exhibit focusing on perceptions of Lincoln at the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary, featuring artists of all ages from Lincoln’s communities.
Veterans Voices of Canada Association $13,000 Keeping History Alive in Niagara – provide archival video documentation of Veteran stories to schools, museums, community groups and libraries as a tool to bring awareness of the sacrifices made to keep our freedom for the last 150 years.
TOTAL $60,000
Second Round Approvals – Niagara Community Foundation Canada 150 Grants, 2017
DSBN – Fort Erie SS (Dominion Repertory Theatre) $7,400 “But We Said Please!” – A comedic celebratory look at Canadian history and culture performed through a live musical theatre production.
Heartland Forest Nature Experience $8,000 Celebrating our Early Naturalists Exhibit and Education Program – Celebrate Canada’s natural history by recognizing the efforts of Canadian Naturalists and their contribution to science and conservation over the last 150 years.
I Am Compelled $8,000 Hope Tour: Inspiring elementary students in learning about Canadian heritage, past great heroes and compelling them to be responsible citizens.
Niagara Falls Public Library $5,000 Canada 150: Niagara Falls – Then and Now – Niagara Falls Public Library will access photos from our Historic Niagara Digital Collections archives and create reproductions to be placed throughout the city in the historic locations the photos were originally taken.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 230 $4,000 Royal Canadian Legion Branch 230 – Canada 150 Celebration
Shaw Festival Theatre Foundation, Canada $5,000 Shaw in the Community – The Shaw will create innovative, high-quality programming that will illuminate the history of Canada and Niagara, resulting in the immersive and dynamic theatrical events which will engage our community in ways that go beyond the traditional theatre experience.
The Essential Collective Theatre $10,000 The Welland Canal Play – an original theatrical presentation for all ages about the history and impact of the Welland Canal in Niagara, and about the people who toiled over the past 150 years to create this vital waterway.
The Weir Foundation – The RiverBrink Art Museum $8,000 Dreams and Schemes – Building the Welland Canals –  an exhibition of art works depicting the Welland Canals from the earliest renderings of both actual and imagined projects in a broad survey spanning the 19th to the 21st century.
Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake – Queenston Residents Association $9,000 Queenston Celebrates Canada’s 150th – 3-part event including: indigenous trees planting, guided walking tours exploring the built history of the village, and a village ceremony with civic speakers, a choral performance, barbecue and lawn games in the new village park.
Wainfleet Historical Society $1,600 Feeder Canal Plaque – Create and erect plaque which outlines the history of the Feeder Canal and its significance to the development of Wainfleet.
TOTAL $60,000

Source: Niagara Community Foundation. New Community Fund for Canada’s 150th

Niagara Investment in Culture Program (Niagara Region)

The Niagara Investment in Culture program promotes culture in Niagara by funding a range of innovative and collaborative projects. Since 2015, over $587,000 has been invested in the community through this program.

Niagara Region created the Niagara Investment in Culture program to:

  • Build capacity in Niagara’s culture sector
  • Increase access to culture for residents and visitors in all parts of Niagara
  • Promote partnerships between public, private and governmental sectors
  • Provide support to Niagara culture groups and participants
  • Celebrate Niagara’s history, people and identity

The aim is to support interesting, innovative and high quality cultural programming that is:

  • Niagara-based – created by, experienced in and celebrates the arts and heritage of Niagara
  • Inclusive – accessible and open to the public
  • Collaborative – features shared costs and enhanced partnerships
  • Accountable – has measurable impact and is sustainable
2015-2016 Niagara Investment in Culture Projects (Niagara Region)
Organization / Municipality Project Description Funding
Carousel Players Carousel Players Develops New Play with Youth Inspired by Rodman Hall Art Centre Niagara youth will create a new interactive theatre piece at Rodman Hall working with professional artists from Carousel Players and Outside the March theatre company. $14,500
City of Port Colborne ArtsWeek 2016 ArtsWeek is a series of arts and culture classes that will provide the residents of Port Colborne and surrounding communities the experience and opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge about different forms of art, music, and culture. $9,266
City of Welland Welland Art Crawl A night of live music, food, artisans, interactive visual art, film, theatre and family fun – a night to remember with something for everyone! $9,000
Essential Collective Theatre The Fighting Days A theatre performance that portrays the struggle on the Canadian home front during World War One and the parallel fight for voting rights for women. $18,439
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Hear and Now Local Music Series A Niagara focused music series to raise the profile and capacity of local emerging and established professional musicians. $16,500
Fort Erie Festivals Fort Erie’s Cultural Diversity Showcasing the very different cultures that make up our community. $5,000
Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre Sharing Our Traditional Gifts Aboriginal Elders and community members will share their knowledge of traditional crafts and customs in this learning program with opportunities for hands on activities. $7,500
Gallery Players of Niagara Interactive Elements An interactive multimedia live performance that incorporates three musicians, a dancer, technology and projected visuals. It will include live streaming to the internet. $10,000
Niagara Artists Centre Big Dreams – Big Screens This project provides Niagara artists with skills and professional fees to develop media art works for large format 3D projection and tiled wall displays. $22,500
Niagara Falls Art Gallery Senior Teaching Art to Seniors Artists throughout the Niagara region will go into senior citizens’ residences and provide art lessons in painting, drawing and sculpture. $5,000
Niagara Falls Museums FACES: Portraits from our City A collaborative endeavour to produce an exhibition focused on portraits. Along with the exhibition, interactive community based educational programming will occur. $7,000
Niagara Falls Music Theatre Society (Firehall Theatre) She Loves Me An award-winning Broadway musical presented live on stage. $5,000
Niagara Folk-Arts The Robby Presents… To present culturally inspired music and performances throughout the year while at the same time fostering artistic explorations and presentation space within a heritage building. $10,000
Niagara Grape and Wine Festival The Home Grown Country Music Festival Extending the New Vintage Festival to include a full day of local musical talent in front of a large audience of tourists and Niagara residents. $12,000
Niagara Historical Society and Museum Five and Dime Film Series For six consecutive Mondays the museum will present a film accompanied by contextual information and live music to complement programming by local arts groups. $5,130
Niagara Jazz Festival Jazz in the Park A free one-day event featuring three stages (Fiesta, Youth and Acoustic) in Simcoe Park with artisans, food, wine and a kid’s zone. $15,000
Niagara Symphony Association String Ensemble of Niagara Symphony Association Principal Musicians Tours Niagara Schools The tour will connect professional musicians with elementary students throughout Niagara, facilitating curriculum expectations, extending the orchestra’s cultural outreach & enriching young lives. $15,000
Ontario Power Generation Light Up Niagara The Winter Festival of Lights has partnered with Fallsview Business Improvement Area and local artists to come up with new illuminations for the Festival of Lights. $9,000
Ridgeway Reads Literary Society Battle of Ridgeway Diorama and Historical Tableau Students from both South Niagara Secondary Schools will build a diorama of the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866, and drama students will portray roles of 5 key figures. $1,600
Rodman Hall Art Centre Site Lines – Animating Niagara’s History from Contemporary Perspectives – Digital Projects by Elizabeth Chitty &Maggie Groat Niagara-based artists create online digital content that animates the history of Rodman Hall and its location from a contemporary perspective. $10,000
Shaw Festival Alice in Wonderland The Shaw will produce the beloved classic “Alice in Wonderland” in a new Niagara-grown adaptation using a mixture of Victorian magic and brilliant contemporary technology. $20,000
Suitcase in Point Theatre Company In the Soil Arts Festival A three day multidisciplinary showcase of the unique artistic talents of Niagara artists in downtown St. Catharines. $24,000
Town of Pelham Shopping, Dinner and Music Providing an opportunity for Niagara folk and acoustic acts to perform music Thursday nights at the Pelham Markets from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. $5,000
Town of West Lincoln Harvest Routes 2016 Build upon the proven successful Harvest Routes event as a Township wide “Celebration of Arts and Culture” by continued growth and partnerships in the community. $14,000
Twitches and Itches The Bacchae Film-noir adaptation of the Greek tragedy that investigates contemporary conflicts between the extremes of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism and questions of gender and sexuality. $10,000
Willowbank School of Restoration Arts Rock the Harvest: A Stone Music Festival Celebrating the fall harvest through music, local food and traditional craftsmanship. $7,000


2016-2017 Niagara Investment in Culture Projects (Niagara Region)
Applicant Project Description Funding
Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts Voices of Freedom Festival Honouring Canada’s significant Black history through the arts, the Voices of Freedom Festival will expand throughout Niagara and become the first bi-national festival of its kind. $15,000
Canada Sesquicentennial Committee Commemoration of 225th Anniversary of Ontario’s First Parliament To commemorate the 225th anniversary of the first parliament of Ontario, we are planning to produce a reenactment to take to Niagara-on-the-Lake communities. $15,000
Carousel Players Celebrating 45 Years of Carousel Players Carousel celebrates its 45 year history with a retrospective photo exhibition, three new videos, community birthday party and special performance on May 1. Video launch on May 27, 2017. $2,500
City of Port Colborne Arts Week Arts Week is a series of arts and culture classes that will provide the residents of Port Colborne and surrounding communities the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. $6,750
Essential Collective Theatre The Welland Canal Play A new original theatre production for all ages that animates the story of the Welland Canal and its significance to Niagara. $15,000
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Celebration of Nations Local students will look at and experience our surroundings in new ways by participating in a garden walk from two perspectives (artist and arborist), followed by responsive art-making. $22,500
Folk Arts Multicultural Centre Arts Alive To present a one-day arts event combining ethno-cultural and contemporary Canadian art, in as many forms as possible, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship that each need the other to flourish. $8,500
Fort Erie Festivals Fort Erie Festivals Showcase cultural diversity and history of our community. $7,500
Gallery Players of Niagara Flutes en Route! A collaboration of The Gallery Players, Flutes en Route! and The Brain Farm to present an innovative, multi-media performance with a world music perspective. $10,000
Grimsby Public Art Gallery Special Skills Summer Art Program Summer workshops inspired by Grimsby Public Art Gallery exhibitions and taught by Niagara artists that will provide instruction in specific techniques and media to adults and teens. $7,750
Heartland Forest Discovering our Roots Creative Art Utilizing the expertise of new community partners, our goal is to engage children in nature art. This project will preserve memories, inspire participants and will offer the extraordinary pleasure of discovery. $7,500
Niagara Cricket Club Inc. South Asian Comedy and Music Show Niagara Cricket Club, a non profit sports and cultural organization conducts its popular “Niagara Cricket Festival” at Niagara Cricket Centre located in Thorold. In 2017, club board is adding a South Asian Comedy and Music Show with singers, musicians and comedy poetry. $11,500
Niagara Falls Art Gallery MADD Camp for Kids A collaborative partnership between the Niagara Falls Art Gallery and The Firehall Theatre to present a summer music, art, drama and dance camp for children. $6,250
Niagara Historical Society Society Administrator A fictitious film company. $9,000
Niagara Jazz Festival LIVE LEARN JAZZ: A Canadiana Suite A 5-part musical series celebrating Canadian and Niagara jazz performers with an educational component and outreach program set in Niagara wineries, breweries and schools. $15,000
Rodman Hall Art Centre Interpreting Trees: Exploration and Artistic Response Local students will look at and experience our surroundings in new ways by participating in a garden walk from two perspectives (artist and arborist), followed by responsive art-making. $8,750
Shaw Festival Two-way Theatre Initiative The Shaw will create new programs to engage audiences – the young and young at heart – to be active participants in the creative process. $20,000
Suitcase In Point In the Soil Arts Festival An explosion of creativity takes over the heart of downtown St. Catharines from April 28 – 30, 2017. $30,000
Town of Pelham Indie Music Festival A one-day event celebrating original art and live music performances by local artists. $6,500
The Norm Foster Theatre Festival Screwball Comedy To develop and produce the world premiere of Norm Foster’s Screwball Comedy, the first period play to be undertaken by the Foster Festival. $20,000
Town of Lincoln This is OUR Lincoln – Canada 150 Harvest Homecoming Festival An all-inclusive three-day celebratory festival featuring the ‘life and times’ of the Town of Lincoln over the 150+ years and into the future. $20,000
Township of West Lincoln Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebration The Township of West Lincoln will celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with a full day of Canada-themed arts and cultural events. $18,000
Welland Downtown Business Improvement Area Supper Markets The market will be a gathering place for the community to enjoy 100 percent local cultural, food, wine and entertainment along the historical Welland canal. $5,000
Yellow Door Theatre Project The Wind in the Willows We are requesting monetary assistance to commission the creation of a Canadian written adaptation of a musical theatre version of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. $12,000

Source: Niagara Region, Niagara Investment in Culture Program.
Retrieved from:

Landscape of Nations is a moving public artwork of deep meaning that was unveiled in October 2016 on the grounds of the historic battle of Queenston Heights. It acts as an official recognition of the critically important contributions of Indigenous Peoples during Canada’s formative years, and particularly during the War of 1812. The memorial is also a symbol of our collective history and friendship with Indigenous communities.

The $1.4 million project was a joint investment by the federal, Ontario, and local governments, the Six Nations Legacy Consortium, and many donors. It includes two bronze sculptures of Indigenous leaders John Norton and John Brant, time markers indicating the start of the War of 1812 and when peace was achieved, bronze medallions integrated into a memory circle, and a Tree of Peace under which children buried weapons of war at the unveiling.

The project to create the memorial began in 2008 by The Working Group, a subcommittee of the Niagara-on-the-Lake War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee.  They received $420,000 in funding from the Canadian Heritage Legacy Fund, and a fundraising campaign raised the remaining amount.

Source: Landscape of Nations. A Nation Resolved: The Ongoing Impact of Historic Alliances
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The Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial was unveiled in November of 201, to honour the 137 men whose deaths were documented during the 18 years (1913 to 1935) it took to build the fourth canal.  The loss of life on the project is believed to be the largest of any federal government infrastructure project in Canadian history.

The fourth Welland Canal was built to expand shipping routes and connect the Great Lakes to eastern Canada, western New York and global trade routes. To this day the Welland Canal continues to serve as a major transportation corridor, contributing billions annually to the Canadian economy.

The unveiling of the memorial marks the completion of years of research and fundraising by the Niagara community, including elected representatives, historians, the marine industry, labour, local media and volunteers who were committed to fulfilling the 85-year-old promise to honour the fallen workers. The Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial was designed by Dereck Revington Studio Inc. of Toronto through a national competition.

The memorial features four elements – the Gates of Remembrance, the Veil, the Timeline and the Lock – all set within a contemplative grove. The memorial was constructed at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal to serve as a reminder of the fallen workers.

With a budget of $1.2 million, the memorial has been made possible with funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Niagara Region, the City of St. Catharines and significant donations from the marine industry, local businesses and the labour community.

Source: City of St. Catharines
Retrieved from:—Niagara-memorial-honours-the-work-of-137-fallen-workers.pdf

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