Summary of the Evaluation of the Creative Export Strategy 2018-19 to 2020-21

Evaluation Services Directorate
January 20, 2023

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Summary of the Evaluation of the Creative Export Strategy 2018-19 to 2020-21 [PDF version - 541 KB]

List of acronyms and abbreviations

Creative Export Canada
Creative Export Fund
Creative Export Strategy
Gross domestic product
Growth From Knowledge
International Trade Operations
Canadian Heritage
Trade Mission


The Creative Export Strategy (CES) is composed of three pillars. The evaluation focused on the third pillar, the Creative Export Fund (CEF), which includes the Creative Export Canada (CEC) program and International Trade Operations (ITO) activities.

Evaluation findings


The ongoing need for exports is critical to the continued growth of the creative sector.

Between 2010 and 2020, the Canadian culture sector grew at an average annual rate of about 2%. By 2020, it had generated $55.5 billion in direct gross domestic product (GDP), 2.7% of Canada's total GDP.

With a small domestic market, the Canadian creative sector must export to grow.

The sector needs government support to expand export activities due to:

The demand for the CEF activities outweighs available supports.

CEC Program

Trade missions (TM)

The CEF support is distributed among regions, creative sectors and organization types.

Table 1: distribution of CEC funded applicants and TM participants by region
Regions % of CEC funded recipients % of TM participants
West 10 21
Prairies and Northern 2 5
Ontario 31 38
Quebec 52 27
Atlantic 4 8

Note: CEC multi-sectoral projects were comprised of the Audiovisual/interactive media sector, the Live performance sector, among others.

Table 2: distribution of CEC funded applicants and TM participants by creative sector
Creative sectors % of CEC funded recipients % of TM participants
Education and training 0 1
Heritage and libraries 0 5
Governance, funding and professional support 0 11
Written and published works 6 12
Sound recording 6 8
Visual and applied arts 8 6
Audiovisual et interactive media 19 27
Live performance 33 29
Multi-sectorial 28 0

Note: CEC multi-sectoral projects were comprised of the Audiovisual/interactive media sector, the Live performance sector, among others.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the creative sector and stakeholders, although there have been a few notable exceptions.

Impact on creative industries and stakeholders

Organizations in the live performance sector were severely impacted by cancellations of in-person and international tours/events, causing revenue decline. This resulted in a shift to digital delivery and adjustment to revenue models, particularly for venue and performance-based sectors, while the audiovisual and interactive media sector benefited from virtual entertainment.

The majority of CEC projects and TM participants reported issues from delays, interruptions and reductions to project changes, and cancellations of agreements or partnerships.

The CEF was able to adapt to meet the new and changing needs of the pandemic.

CEC program

ITO’s activities

The CEF aligns with federal and departmental priorities, particularly the promotion of international trade and of the creative sector.

While the CEF considers government commitments on equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, there are opportunities to improve data collection on these equity communities to better support decision-making and reporting.

The CEF complements other government programs offered by the provinces/territories and municipalities. While these programs address similar concerns, efforts have been made to avoid duplication and to ensure that CEC and ITO activities each meet distinct needs.


The CEF is on track to achieve its two intended short-term outcomes.

CEC Program

ITO’s activities

The CEF has made considerable progress in achieving its three intended medium-term outcomes. Opportunities exist to further increase exports of the creative sector.

CEC Program

ITO’s activities

Canada's creative sector enjoys strong global recognition. Canada ranked in 5th position for the GFK Nation Branding (now called Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index) Exports Index in 2021 – the same ranking achieved in 2018.

For the GFK Nation Branding Cultural Index, Canada was ranked in 10th position in 2021, which is higher than the 12th position ranking in 2018.


Overall, the CEF was in part delivered efficiently with opportunities for improvement.

Efficiency was supported through strong partnerships, communication and coordination.

While CEF was delivered efficiently overall, there were challenges with the CEC funding decision-making process. The PCH service standard of 26 weeks was achieved only 34% of the time, and there was a lack of clarity on funding priorities and eligibility criteria.

The performance measurement information is useful for decision-making, but some gaps exist such as:


The evaluation recommends that the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Cultural Affairs:

  1. Review and update the CEF logic model and performance measurement indicators to:
    • support consistent data collecting and reporting;
    • better capture intermediate and long-term economic impacts; and
    • improve data collection and reporting on equity communities.
  2. Implement measures to streamline and enhance the CEC funding decision process.

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, 2023
Catalogue No.: CH7-69/2-2023E-PDF
ISBN: 978-0-660-47788-6

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