The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) promotes and celebrates Canadian recording artists and music. The non-profit organization administers the Juno Awards and Juno Week events. It also oversees the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the MusiCounts education charity.
CARAS was 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. It is responsible for administering the Juno Awards’ nomination and voting procedures. It also coordinates the annual televised gala. The founding president of CARAS was Mel Shaw (1975–80).
Membership in CARAS is restricted to individuals (known as delegates) who actively work in the Canadian music industry. The fields of performance, recording, publishing, broadcasting and retailing are all represented. CARAS maintains a board of directors and an advisory board; musicians and music industry figures serve on both. CARAS also has further representation on a regional basis.
There are regional bodies of CARAS in British Columbia (BCMIA); Alberta (AMIA); Saskatchewan (SRIA); Manitoba (Manitoba Music); New Brunswick (MNB); Nova Scotia (Music Nova Scotia); Ontario (MusicOntario); Prince Edward Island (Music PEI); Newfoundland and Labrador (MusicNL); Yukon (Music Yukon); and Northwest Territories (Music NWT).
In 2002, the Prairie Music Alliance expanded to include 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). They have hosted the Western Canadian Music Awards on an annual basis since 2003. The eastern provinces have hosted their own East Coast Music Awards on an annual basis since 1989; they were known as the Maritime Music Awards until 1991.
MusiCounts Education Programs
CARAS works to provide young Canadians with access to music education regardless of socio-economic circumstances and cultural background. Its charity, MusiCounts, began awarding post-graduate scholarships in 1989. In 1997, CARAS established the Band Aid program; it was funded by proceeds from sales of the 25th anniversary Juno Awards commemorative CD box set, Oh What A Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music. The program provides funding to selected schools for the purchase of band instruments. The instruments 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; and members of the Tragically Hip, Great Big Sea and 54-40.
The Band Aid program received a boost in 2002; 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; it 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.