The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and celebrate Canadian artists and music. It administers the Juno Awards and Juno Week events, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the MusiCounts education charity.
Established as an advisory committee to the Juno Awards in 1974, it was formalized in 1975 first as the Canadian Music Awards Association and then as CARAS. The first president of CARAS was Mel Shaw (1975–80). The academy is responsible for administering the awards' nomination and voting procedures, and for coordinating the televised presentation of the awards ceremony. CARAS established the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978.
Membership in CARAS is restricted to individuals (known within the organization as delegates) actively working in the Canadian music industry in the fields of performance, recording, publishing, broadcasting and retailing. CARAS maintains a board of directors and an advisory board, both comprising musicians and music industry figures, and has further representation on a regional basis.
Regional representatives of CARAS are located in BC (BCMIA), Alberta (AMIA), Saskatchewan (SRIA), Manitoba (Manitoba Music), New Brunswick (MNB), Nova Scotia (Music Nova Scotia), Ontario (MusicOntario), PEI (Music PEI), Newfoundland and Labrador (MusicNL), Yukon (Music Yukon) and Northwest Territories (Music NWT).
In 2002, the Prairie Music Alliance expanded to incorporate the Western Canadian provinces and territories (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut). United, they are known as the Western Canadian Music Alliance (WCMA) and have hosted the Western Canadian Music Awards on an annual basis since 2003. The eastern provinces have hosted their own East Coast Music Awards (known until 1991 as the Maritime Music Awards) on an annual basis since 1989.
MusiCounts Education Programs
CARAS is dedicated to ensuring that young Canadians regardless of socio-economic circumstances and cultural background have access to music education. Its charity, MusiCounts, began awarding post-graduate scholarships in 1989. In 1997, thanks to proceeds from sales of the 25th anniversary Juno Awards commemorative CD box set, Oh What A Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music, CARAS established the Band Aid program. The program provides funding to selected schools for the purchase of band instruments, which are then delivered by a prominent member of the Canadian music industry. Past presentations have been made by: Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Susan Aglukark, Jane Bunnett, members of The Tragically Hip, Great Big Sea and members of 54-40.
The Band Aid program received a boost in 2002, when five major Canadian record labels (BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Canada and Warner Music Canada) committed to an annual joint pledge of $50,000. In 2003, 11 schools each received $10,000 toward the purchase of instruments.
In 2005, MusicCounts founded the Teacher of the Year Award. In 2008 it established the Fred Sherratt Award, which grants $1,000 cash scholarships to 12 graduates of post-secondary music programs. In 2013, MusiCounts teamed with TD to provide instruments and equipment to community centres, after-school programs and other non-profit organizations across Canada.