Mark Cohon, chair of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS), which puts on the annual Juno Awards, was tasked at the nominee announcement back in late January with talking about the charitable components at this year’s Juno Week (March 11-17) in London, Ontario, as well as the increasing need for MusiCounts, CARAS’ charitable arm.
The events with proceeds going to MusiCounts — which grants musical instruments to Canadian schools and community groups — include Juno Cup Jam (March 14), the Juno Cup hockey game (15th), Stories From The Studio (16th) and Juno Songwriters’ Circle (12-2 on the 17th).
To cap it off, $1 from every ticket sold to the Juno Awards Sunday night broadcast (March 17) at the 10,294-capacity Budweiser Gardens goes to MusiCounts.
“For all of you have been in the music industry for a long time, you know that CARAS is much more than just an award show,” Cohon said. “Our charity MusiCounts is the heart of our organization and sits at the centre of everything we do.
“We fundamentally believe that the universal language of music needs to be in schools because it opens up possibilities for so many kids across this country. Our laser focus is keeping the music alive in schools and communities across Canada by providing instruments and musical equipment to kids.”
Since 1997, MusiCounts has awarded over $12 million in musical instruments and equipment to more than 1200 schools across Canada, supporting over 350 post-secondary music program graduates. The charity has also honoured 13 music teachers and two ambassadors.
“Last year,” Cohon said, “MusiCounts was able to serve over 12,000 kids across this country. But today our work is more important than ever.
“You know that music programs are being cut in schools. There is not the funding for many of the important things where a lot of these [Juno nominated] artists started. Although we are raising money…we still can't help the majority of schools and communities that reach out to us for support. So our work will continue in earnest.”
Cohon said that starting back at the end of January the Juno Awards’ London Host Committee — the government and local parties responsible for bringing the Juno Awards and lead-up Juno Week festivities to London — decided to donate $1 from every ticket sold for select shows at London Music Hall, Budweiser Gardens and Centennial Hall. “We've raised $120,000 for MusiCounts,” Cohon said at the time; the amount in early March was another 10 grand, and still counting.
“We're going to strong arm some other cities on that one. The challenge is on,” he added.
--- Continue reading this Karen Bliss feature on the SamaritanMag website.