Polaris Music Prize Opens Applications for 2024 Jury and Board of Directors
The non-profit has thirty spots open on its 200-person jury, which awards the annual $50,000 prize to the best Canadian album of the year.
Canadian music lovers, take note: the Polaris Music Prize is open to jury and board applications. Polaris is looking to fill thirty spots on its roughly 200-person volunteer jury, which votes annually to decide the best Canadian album of the year. The Board of Directors, meanwhile, is seeking three new members who can provide expertise and leadership in supporting Polaris’s work.
The Prize, founded in 2006, is dedicated to celebrating Canadian music as an art form. The annual winner is decided based on merit alone — unlike other Canadian music prizes such as the Juno Awards, there’s no sales requirement for artists to be considered. Winners over the years have included Feist, Kaytranada, and Backxwash, with this year’s prize going to Debby Friday’s confident and uncategorizable debut album, Good Luck. Initially associated with indie and alt rock artists, the Prize now often serves as a barometer for sounds and styles taking hold in Canadian music scenes, and provides a platform for rising artists to gain recognition.
Of course, “merit” is a nebulous term, which is where the Polaris jury comes in. The jury is made up of Canadian music experts — including print and digital journalists, radio DJs, podcast hosts, academics and more — who are passionate about seeking out and supporting the best in Canadian music. Together, these experts recommend and then vote on albums for the long list and short list, setting the stage for a grand jury of 11 jurors chosen each year from the larger pool to select the ultimate winner.
While jury members are sought after for their music knowledge, the Polaris staff endeavour to keep the jury balanced and to ensure representation of jurors from different regions, backgrounds, organizations and more. Right now, the Polaris recruitment priority is to maintain fair gender representation. The organization is also seeking jurors with particular expertise in metal and heavy music; reggae; dance/house/techno; classical; goth/industrial; country; classic rock/ Can-rock; and punk.
As for the board, Polaris is looking for members with experience in legal governance, strategic planning and other arts management skills, and particularly encourages applicants from marginalized backgrounds to apply.
Polaris’s work extends beyond managing the annual prize. The organization also helms the Slaight Family Heritage Prize, launched to recognize albums that were released before Polaris was founded. This year’s Heritage Prize winners were Symphony In Effect by hip-hop hero Maestro Fresh Wes and the industrial cult classic Bites by Skinny Puppy. The annual Polaris gala also serves as a showcase for nominated artists, with shortlisted acts often performing, as well as a networking hub for the Canadian music industry.