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Polaris Music Prize: Executive Director Application

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POSITION: Executive Director
LOCATION: Toronto, Ontario is preferred
POSITION DETAILS: Full time, Permanent
REPORTS TO: Board of Directors
DIRECT REPORTS: Communications Director, Bookkeeper, Auditor, Publicist, Event Staff, Contractors


The Polaris Music Prize (Polaris) is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judge and award the Prize without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity.

Polaris also hosts a Community Development Program, an artistic poster campaign and unique merchandise, a Heritage Prize, and additional partnerships and select show productions throughout the year.

The Polaris Community Development Program (CDP) is an initiative that seeks to support and develop the music community by eliminating barriers to access for engaged music creators, entrepreneurs and change makers with limited means.


Polaris is seeking a vigorous, visionary, inspirational, and forward-thinking Executive Director (ED). This is a unique opportunity to lead one of Canada’s iconic music brands that impacts, influences, and inspires Canadian musical audiences and artists.

The ED will be a strategic leader who, with the Board and staff, will define Polaris’ future priorities and goals. An effective “big picture” strategist and leader, the ED will take a consultative approach to evolve the vision of the Polaris for the future while celebrating the history of its positive impact.

You possess a passion for a broad range of music with a focus on independent music, authenticity, community, varied musical dialogues and conversations. You are a natural entrepreneur who possesses strong strategic skills and instincts with the vision, commitment to the mission, and energy to inspire support for Polaris Music Prize. You connect others in shared platforms and ideas to bring the organization forward to new heights, audiences, and fan bases – bridging diverse music audiences and inspiring new media generations to come.

You are driven to imagine and deliver new lines of business, partnerships, and revenue opportunities, and you will grow Polaris’ strategic plan and goals with the addition of new and exciting ventures while ensuring financial sustainability.

The Executive Director must manage, mentor, and motivate a small but dedicated team in Toronto while representing and advocating for the Canadian music industry.


Leadership & Management     

  • Be the public face and voice of the organization – a spokesperson, ambassador and advocate for artists with the music industry, funders, and public.
  • The ED is an entrepreneurial, administrative, strategic, and advocacy role that advances the vision, mission, and values of Polaris.
  • Ensure Polaris operates within its mission statement and strategic plan while setting revenue targets, policies, and organizational strategies to meet those goals.
  • Secure and steward major sponsors, partners, and donors in identifying opportunities for growth and funding.
  • Ensure the integrity of the Prize while maintaining high standards of transparency.
  • Continually monitor music industry (and other relevant cultural) developments and trends to help Polaris be a thought and change leader.
  • Oversee Polaris’ operations to ensure efficiency, quality, service levels, and cost-effective management of resources.
  • Work with staff to ensure Polaris maintains its current programs and events, while fostering an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the organization.
  • Maintain and support a diverse, positive, results-oriented workplace culture with a unified vision and shared goals.
  • Recruit, lead, mentor, inspire, and retain a dedicated team.
  • Oversee the staff and HR planning of the organization; manage performance development, benefits administration, and employment agreements.
  • Oversee day-to-day activities with key staff, ensuring that projects are on track, deliverables are being met and that they are in keeping with Polaris’ goals and mission.
  • Demonstrated authentic commitment to and proven track record of sensitivity to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Ability and desire to create and support a safe and inclusive work environment.


  • Responsible for the overall financial stability and sustainability of Polaris, finding efficiencies and revenue opportunities.
  • Develop relationships and stewards with sponsors, funding bodies, and partners.
  • Work with Bookkeeper and Auditor on annual financial statements and report revenue to Board of Directors.
  • Meet with granting or funding bodies; prepare and submit funding applications as required.
  • Manage or oversee A/R and A/P.

Event & Jury Management

  • Create and set goals and priorities to expand viewership and audiences for annual events.
  • Develop and produce projects that enhance and grow the organization’s profile and brand awareness throughout the year.
  • Work with venue and event staff, production, and contractors while ensuring that events and projects are executed to a high standard and within budget.
  • Liaise with artist management on performances for Polaris events.
  • Working with the Jury Foreperson, manage and oversee the Jury and voting process.
  • Ensure that the Jury selection and accompanying personnel are reflective of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) representation.
  • Instill values of unbiased, journalistic integrity while fostering open artistic dialogues amongst a diverse range of jurors.

Marketing & Communications

  • Responsible for Polaris’ brand strategy and external marketing for public events and media relations.
  • Work with the Communications Director and publicity team on public statements, press releases, social media activity and initiatives and juror communications.
  • Oversee all PR communication while reflecting the core values and integrity of the Polaris Music Prize. while maintaining trust and confidence – use of sensitivity, mediation, facilitation, and problem solving required internally and externally in PR.
  • Problem solve and respond to juror, partner and/or public concerns in a timely fashion in accordance with the mission and values of Polaris.

Board Governance

  • Report directly to and communicate effectively with the Board Chair/full Board.
  • Work with Board and committees to ensure best practices are followed.
  • Provide strategic and administrative support to a very active and engaged Board of Directors and its committees.


  • Minimum five years of progressively senior management experience or leadership role in the music industry, cultural organization, or relevant not-for-profit sector.
  • A strong affinity for fundraising with proven ability to develop significant sponsorships and partnerships in creating revenue generation.
  • A proven, consistently effective “closer” – a goal-oriented pacesetter with a demonstrated ability to create momentum in pursuit of development goals.
  • Demonstrated track record of entrepreneurship and building a brand with success or growing the visibility, significant partnerships, and projects of an organization.
  • Experienced in creating and delivering a strategic plan.
  • Previous experience in music partnerships, management, label work, radio, digital, publicity, A&R, the live music sector or similar relevant background an asset.
  • A versatile, skilled and effective communicator with the ability to articulate the transformative power and impact of music on society.
  • Visionary strengths in addressing industry changes and developing opportunities to expand Polaris’ brand and reach.
  • Experience in reporting to and working with a not-for-profit board is an asset.
  • Brings a passion and belief in Canadian music, its genres, peoples, politics, and issues.
  • Advanced level of public relations and communication abilities to effectively gain cooperation and buy-in of others, with credibility within the music sector.
  • Positive, constructive, attitude in all interactions with the Board, staff, partners, funders, supporters, and the public.
  • Knowledge and understanding of digital, social media, and media trends.
  • Effective budgeting and cost management skills. Financially literate and resourceful.
  • Leadership style that inspires and supports a culture of collaboration.
  • A team builder who has worked collaboratively and in strategic partnerships, project management or event production.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • An undergraduate degree or experiential equivalent.
  • Bilingualism / ability to speak and write in French is an asset.


  • A business- and media-savvy, strategic entrepreneur who can execute a creative vision.
  • A strong vision for the future of Polaris’s mission, mandate, and values.
  • Passionate about the Polaris Music Prize mandate, brand, and mission.
  • Articulate, curious, and knowledgeable.
  • Well-informed and well-read.  Forward-thinking and an awareness of cultural trends.
  • Possesses high-level critical judgement and is politically astute.
  • Dedicated to the principles of equal opportunity, cultural diversity, and broadening access to the arts.
  • A high-energy, strategic self-starter; creative, out-of-the-box thinker who is a fearless relationship-builder.
  • Ability to bring together people and relationships within various music and art communities in innovative and creative ways.
  • Drive and dedication toward a high degree of stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Emotionally mature with a strong “boardroom” presence, personal dynamism, excellent interpersonal skills, vision, and business acumen.
  • Open-minded, non-partisan and able to weigh issues with objectivity. Ability to be an active non-judgmental listener to diverse points of view.
  • Accountable with a strong sense of professionalism and integrity.
  • A belief in the integrity of artistic merit, authenticity, community, and connection that brings together music and art lovers.
  • Understands the day-to-day world of musicians, artists, and creatives.
  • Skilled at working with diverse individuals and teams in a culturally safe and sensitive manner.
  • A genuine commitment to support and grow an internal culture that values people and provides an opportunity for everyone to flourish.
  • A commitment to and demonstrated success in the areas of diversity, inclusion, accessibility, equity and harassment-free workplaces and an understanding of how this helps achieve more effective outcomes.


A competitive compensation package including base salary and benefits will be provided.


Please submit your application by end of day September 10th, 2021, by emailing your cover letter and résumé to:

Polaris Music Prize is an equal-opportunity employer and committed to fair and accessible employment practices. We are committed to building and maintaining an inclusive work environment that reflects the diversity of the audiences we serve.

We encourage applications from all qualified candidates and equity seeking groups, including from racialized persons/persons of colour, Indigenous persons, and persons with disabilities. Should you require accommodation during the application or hiring process, please contact so that we may discuss your needs.

We thank applicants for their interest, however; only those advancing in the process will be contacted.



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