It was the news many had dreaded but knew was coming. This morning in a joint statement from the Junos, City of Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Government cancelled the 2020 Juno Awards and all Juno Week activities because of the threat of COVID-19.
“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,” the statement reads.
It’s news that didn’t really surprise musician Blake Berglund.
“My heart says it seems like the right decision,” says Berglund. “For the health of the people of Saskatchewan, I think it’s the right way to go. I have a much deeper affection to them than to any award.”
“For the health of the people of Saskatchewan, I think it’s the right way to go. I have a much deeper affection to them than to any award.”
In the context of public health, the decision may be right but that doesn’t take away the sting of what is being lost by many musicians that were set to play over the next 4 days.
“There was such a wonderful spotlight being put on our province right now,” he says. “The Junos brought with it opportunities that artists could really have benefitted from, the chance to network with people in the industry that have the power to propel our careers froward.”
The cancellation also means a big loss to the community. The Junos were expected to generate $9 million in economic activity in Saskatoon. Details about refunds for tickets haven’t yet been released.
For Berglund, the Junos being cancelled brings up so many more questions about his future as an independent musician.
“My livelihood is made by gathering large groups of people in a room together and now we’re being forced to look at alternative options to make a living.” Berglund explains, “I still need to be a responsible citizen. I think right now we have to take a breath, look at the facts and move forward in a way that’s responsible.”
Berglund says he now hopes for strong leadership to help navigate the threat of COVID-19.
“I really want to put pressure on our leaders right now to work together,” he says. “We need them to put aside the divisiveness and politics. They now have to guide us in a plan of action that can guide the people of Saskatchewan and our country through this right now.”