At the Juno Awards gala dinner in March, Arcade Fire received the International Achievement Award, recognizing the success the band’s most recent album, Everything Now. Frontman Win Butler seized the opportunity, in front 1,500 members the music industry and fellow artists, to encourage more philanthropy — by gently calling out everyone in attendance, including himself. “We’re all cheapskates, ultimately,” he said.
Back in 2016 at the Junos, Arcade Fire received a special award for humanitarianism, which this year went to media entrepreneur and businessman Gary Slaight. On May 10, during Canadian Music Week, the members Arcade Fire will be honored again for their charity work, this time by Slaight and his family, who sponsor the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award, named for Gary’s father, the founder radio broadcaster Slaight Communications.
Butler and his wife and bandmate, Régine Chassagne, will be in Toronto to accept the honor on behalf the entire band — rounded out by William Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara — at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala dinner.
“Like Mr. Slaight was saying, we are the rich people at the table,” the American-born Butler said onstage at the Juno gala. “Like the country Canada, we are the rich, stingy people. We need to give more and give as much as we possibly can.”
While Arcade Fire has been involved with many causes since its formation in Montreal in the early 2000s, its primary focuses are Partners in Health and Kanpe.
Partners in Health is a renowned global health-care organization that establishes long-term relationships with sister organizations based in poverty-stricken areas. Kanpe — co-founded by Chassagne and Dominique Anglade, both born to Haitian parents who fled to Canada — works with its partners to help Haitian families escape poverty. Arcade Fire has raised and donated over $4 million, trained thousands outreach volunteers and engaged some 500,000 fans in support the people Haiti.
In 2004, the band included a song called “Haiti” on its debut album, Funeral. That same year, Arcade Fire played two hometown shows and donated the prits to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti. In 2006, Arcade Fire started donating $1 per concert ticket sold to Partners in Health, and in 2010 Chassagne co-founded Kanpe. Four years later, Plus 1 was launched (now run by former Arcade Fire member Marika Anthony-Shaw), which encourages other touring acts to add a dollar to their ticket price directed to a charity the artist’s choice. So far, Plus 1 has raised $6 million for numerous causes. Non-Canadian acts that have participated include Sam Smith, St. Vincent, Chvrches, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and The National.
The Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award is now in its ninth year. Previous recipients include Rush, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Krezuk & Raine Maida, Simple Plan, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado. This year, the honor comes with cash award more than $23,000 at current exchange rates ($30,000 CAD), which is donated by the Slaight Family.
“The Slaight family is proud to acknowledge the great deeds that Arcade Fire has done for causes at home and abroad over the years,” says Slaight Communications president/CEO Gary Slaight in a statement. “My father, Allan Slaight, has always stressed the importance giving back, and this great Canadian band has done so in spades.”
This article originally appeared in the May 5 issue Billboard.