The 50th anniversary of the Juno Awards will not be the big shebang we all hoped for. Still, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) will do their best on May 16, 2021, to honour the annual celebration of Canadian music started in Toronto by RPM Weekly trade magazine founders Walt Grealis and Stan Klees as the Gold Leaf Awards. A year later it was renamed after Pierre Juneau, the chair of the CRTC and a driving force behind CanCon.
The 49th edition in Saskatoon, SK, scheduled for March 15, 2020, was cancelled last minute when the coronavirus's threat became evident that it could not be held safely. A virtual event was held online June 29 to announce the winners. But despite the pandemic, CARAS has been pivoting and rethinking and has moved the 50th awards from March 28 at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena to May to give them a bit more time. No details on a venue, if any, or if people will be able to attend in bubbles or socially distanced has been determined at this early stage, but it will be broadcast on CBC.
The press conference to announce the nominees will be held in the new year.
“In 2021, we're returning to Toronto for the first time in a decade,” said CARAS president and CEO Allan Reid during a virtual press conference this morning (Dec. 1). “The 50th anniversary is certainly going to be a little different next year, but regardless, one thing that remains is that we will still be celebrating all of the incredible artists who unite our country through their music.
“It’s been a difficult year for so many people for many industries. The impact of the pandemic has brought exceptional challenges, especially to our artists community. So many of them have lost the opportunity to tour. And I know we're all missing that connection and experience of a live show. When we're faced with challenging circumstances, oftentimes it's music that brings us solace, and we can always count on our artists to be there for us.
“Even through these challenging times, they’ve been remarkably resilient, finding new ways to bring their music into our homes. Our artists keep creating. They keep entertaining us, and we felt the impact of that in our 2021 Juno award submissions,” he revealed. “This year, we received the highest number of submissions in our history, proving that our artists are resilient and we're here to shine a light on them. We saw substantial increases in our new R&B categories, contemporary R&B recording of the year and traditional R&B/ soul recording of the year, along with a rap recording category, which saw a 100% increase in submissions.”
Reid attributes this increase partly to the support of TD Bank Group, which subsidized six Juno categories to help artists both become aware of the categories and also take care of submission fees. As of next year, the financial institution has been the lead sponsor for a decade. This year it hasn't just subsidized submissions but various content series, both new and from the archives.
There are numerous sponsors — including FACTOR, the Government of Canada, and Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters — that help make the Juno Awards and subsidiary events happen, and 2021 funding partners were all named: the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, Radio Starmaker Fund, Slaight Music, Music Canada, SOCAN, Facebook, Sirius XM Canada, Jackson Triggs, and PWC.
Reid also gave a special shout-out to broadcaster CBC, who “continues to step up for our mutual mandate, which is to support all artists in all genres, all the time.”
In a pre-recorded message, Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault said to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Junos, the federal government will “support a series of educational, interactive and fun initiatives that will bring Canadians closer to celebrate the past 50 years of our music history,” including — starting in the new year — “everything from a contemporary Indigenous music educational program for MusiCounts, video series celebrating iconic Juno moments, storytelling around Canadian music over the years, and the new 50th-anniversary interactive website.”
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, who was on hand, in-person with Reid (yes, at least six feet away), then took the podium to talk about what the Ontario government would be doing to support the Toronto show and lead-up events (the Junos have also taken place in Ottawa, Hamilton, and London), noting “arts and culture are important to our government and Ontario’s spectacular double bottom line,” saying there are “significant economic benefits of a world-class music industry.” She added that throughout the pandemic, she has called Reid for his advice as co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“Today, I'm pleased to announce that the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will be receiving a $1 million investment from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to support the 50th anniversary of the Junos in 2021,” MacLeod stated. “In addition, Ontario has retooled our $7 million music investment fund through Ontario Creates to better assist more emerging artists. The Ontario Arts Council will receive a one-time funding increase of $25 million to support our core cultural institutions, and Destination Ontario will be working on a tourism strategy that includes music cities, as a legacy of the 50th anniversary of the Junos.
“The sectors Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries oversees were hit first, hardest, and will take the longest to recover in this pandemic. But through events like the Junos, I have confidence that we will not only recover, but we will reemerge as a global leader.”
The 50th anniversary of the Juno Awards will be broadcast nationally on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and globally on CBCMusic.ca/junos.
New statuettes have been made using the design created by the late glass blower Shirley Elford, a gold version for category winners, a silver version for special award recipients, and a dual gold and silver version for Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.
MusiCounts, the music education charity arm of CARAS, will be awarding $1.5 million worth of instruments and equipment to schools and community organizations across Canada through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program and TD Community Music Program.
The Dec. 1 press conference can be viewed here.