The Juno Awards and affiliated events in Saskatoon this week are cancelled, organizers report.
The big tent event was scheduled for Sunday, March 15, live from SaskTel Centre.
“Through our collaborative discussions and with input and guidance and the full support of our trusted partners, including the Province of Saskatchewan, the City of Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, it is with an incredibly heavy heart that we collectively confirm the cancellation of the 49th Annual Juno Awards and Juno Week activities in Saskatoon due to concerns surrounding COVID-19,” said a CARAS spokesperson in a statement on Thursday.
“We salute and appreciate all the 2020 nominees. CARAS will continue to explore options to coordinate an alternative way to honour this year’s Juno Award winners and Special Award Recipients and support the creators and participants that so greatly benefit from the work done by CARAS and the Junos.”
Annually televised since 1975 save one disruption in 1988, the annual flagship Canadian music awards show the Junos was expected to pump as much as $9M into the local economy and is responsible for as many as 800 hotel room bookings.
The Juno Awards were set to be held at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre and hosted by Alessia Cara, with performances by Québecois neoclassical pianist Alexandra Stréliski, R&B artist Ali Gatie, City and Colour, Indigenous artist iskwē, country singer Meghan Patrick and bluegrass ensemble The Dead South.
Live feeds for the show were to transmitted over the CBC network, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, the CBC Listen app and globally at cbcmusic.ca/junos.
Popster and this year's intended Awards host, Alessia Cara, was the frontrunner with six nominations, but many other artists also scored multiple nominations.
Coming in at a close second was rapper Tory Lanez with five, including two in R&B/soul recording of the year for his album Chixtape 5 as well as his collaboration with Jessie Reyez and Tainy, Feel it Too.
Six artists earned three nods: Shawn Mendes, Bülow, Loud Luxury, Bryan Adams, Nav and first-time nominee, Montreal pianist Alexandra Stréliski.
And the following walked away with two nominations: Avril Lavigne, Lennon Stella, Jessie Reyez, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, Walk Off the Earth, Tenille Townes, Patrick Watson, Iskwē, 88Glam, Kent Nagano, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, bbno$, Ali Gatie, Hunter Brothers and Kevin Hearn.
More than 40 artistic awards were up for grabs, and 1200 were expected for a pre-event Gala industry dinner awards on Saturday the 14th.
Approximately 200 nominations including specialty awards in the categories of artwork, engineering and production, plus a Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award going to Pegi Cecconi, and Jann Arden’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame were in the running.
Ancillary pre-show events during the week included 50 bands booked to perform in 10 venues as part of the annual Junofest concert and showcase series, the Juno Cup ice hockey tourney, a Fan Fare, Songwriter Circle, and Saturday evening’s Gala Awards hosted by Brett Kissel and Amanda Parris, featuring performances by Half Moon Run, Hunter Brothers, Riit, Irish Mythen with Catherine MacLellan and Miranda Mulholland, and Juno Master Class artist Aiza.
Earlier in the week, organizers had stated the show was a go, adding that they continued monitoring the epidemic that became a pandemic.
CARAS is currently looking for alternative ways to award the nominees and acknowledge two special award recipients.
The financial cost for the broadcast and the musicians and parallel industry delegates who booked or already were in attendance is not known but is anything but inconsequential. For CARAS president Allan Reid, the decision to nix operations must have been gut-wrenchingly hard. Public safety had to take precedence and in the end, this is what pushed CARAS to scrub 2020.
Subsequent to the Juno cancellation announcement, the NFL announced it has suspended its season and the PM's office issued a press release stating he is self-quarantined pending COVID-19 test results for his wife Sophie.
Separately, CIMA shared everyone’s disappointment and dismay about the cancellation in a release sent to members Thursday.
“Our thoughts and support go out to the entire CARAS team, and our hosts in Saskatchewan, for what was undoubtedly an impossible and heart-wrenching decision.
“Of course, our hearts go out to the many artists and their teams who will not be given the opportunity for their moment in the sun this weekend. We all know that the strength, resilience, and certainly the extraordinary talent of our entire industry transcends this moment in time.
“This is a trying time for our industry and the world, to be sure, as the situation seems to be shifting daily, even hourly. We remind people to not follow the headlines, but to exercise the prudent precautions that our health officials are communicating to us, following good hygiene practices and avoiding contact through handshakes and the like.”
Adding to this, Music Canada President Graham Henderson issued a statement Thursday pm.
“We at Music Canada fully support the action taken by our partners at the Junos. We understand how difficult this decision must have been but how necessary and prudent it was due to the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who has been affected by the cancellation. In particular, our thoughts are with the artist community. They exist in an often-precarious state and are at the heart of our industry. And we must not forget that the music community at large will feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for a considerable period of time. We need to work together and take care of each other.
“We affirm our commitment to the spirit of the Junos and we pledge to work hand in hand with our partners at CARAS to find a way forward.. We can and will honour the 2020 nominees and special award recipients."