With flexibility and freedom, careers in the arts and culture sectors are quickly become a sustainable vocation. The future will be creative.

“Despite the growth of the creative economy, there are still doubts as to whether you can get a job — whether you should just go into business or become a lawyer. We want to reassure people this is a really exciting career path,” says Michael Maynard, Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Design at Seneca College.
Heritage Canada reports the arts and culture sector is a billion-dollar industry, employing over half a million workers. In Ontario alone, the “creative cluster” contributes $12 billion to the provincial economy each year, according to a report compiled by Applied Arts magazine and sponsored by Canadian colleges.

Social media and digital innovation have led to an explosion in jobs focused on mobile and web development, which are growing at an estimated 7.5 percent per year. According to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, Canadians are thriving in jobs that didn’t exist a few years ago.
Canada’s Culture GDP rose 2.8 percent in 2014. In Ontario, growth in the culture GDP was higher than the national average during that same period. Audio-visual and interactive media, and sound recording led the sector in national job growth, accompanied by visual and applied arts.

The recent Creative Futures report suggests salaries in the creative cluster average about $75,000. For example, the salary in video game creation and production is $71,000 according to Heritage Canada. Other creative jobs like graphic design for print and digital media, social media management and development, digital strategy, film editing and production may have similar salary ranges, meaning that the modern creative person can live a comfortable life.

“Education is key,” Maynard says. “It’s really important in terms of helping develop skills, knowledge and talent needed in a successful career within the creative economy.”
At Seneca College, Maynard oversees more than 40 programs in media, art and design, which can be completed through four-year degrees, two- and three-year diplomas, or one-year certificates. Graduate certificates with a highly specific focus are increasingly popular in fields such as animation, film, and television.

Toronto is known as a hotbed for the creative industry but there are colleges across Ontario offering 250 programs in the creative fields. While many are GTA-based, others are located as far north as Thunder Bay.

“There are art and design programs offered throughout the province, and there are jobs everywhere,” Maynard says.  Many offer flexibility, meaning you can work from your office or apartment— while collaborating with clients and team members across the country and around the globe.

Michael Maynard is chair of the organization Heads of Media, Art and Design, or HOMAD, a group of deans and chairs of Ontario colleges with programs in the creative fields – both cutting-edge and traditional.