Steve Jordan is leaving his perch as founder and ED of the Polaris Music Prize after 15 years to become Sr. Director of CBC Music, a position vacated by Mark Steinmetz in May 2019.
In a statement released by the Polaris org Tuesday, Jordan said: “I’ve been struggling to articulate the mixed emotions I have leaving something I started and have devoted myself to for the last 15 years. I’m sad to leave the day-to-day, but feel a lot of joy that Polaris, culturally and financially, is in the strongest position it’s ever been.
“I have every confidence that the stewardship of the jury, our team, and our stakeholders will ensure Polaris continues with the integrity and vitality that people expect of it.
"It also feels good that so many of our sponsors and suppliers have been with us since the beginning, and continue to support our mission of amplifying the musical excellence in this country. The various hands that touch Polaris throughout the year are all good hands to be leaving it in.”
Jordan had his start at his hometown radio station, CKLC in Kingston, as an intern in his teen years and eventually became music director before moving to Toronto and promoting acts for Kinetic Records. Intense about his love of music, he joined Warner Music Canada’s A&R department, and after three years, in 2002, he was hired as a talent scout for True North Records, where he stayed for another three. In 2006, he launched Polaris, based on his admiration of the UK’s annual Mercury music Prize, awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
“I had followed the Mercury Prize for a long time and I think it just clicked one day that we don’t have this in Canada. But Canada has a good recent history of supporting literature with, for example, the Scotiabank Giller Prize for fiction, so (I figured) there must be at least some root of an understanding of what a prize like Polaris could do in a parallel way for music. That’s really where the idea started,” he told Amanda Sage in a 2013 interview that appeared on the Kickass Canadians’ website.
"On behalf of the Polaris Music Prize’s board of directors, we’d like to thank Steve for the vision and passion he’s brought to The Prize since its inception, and we wish him all the best in his new role at the CBC," Board Chair Miro Oballa stated Tuesday.
She added that Polaris events manager Claire Dagenais would take on an expanded role within Polaris, “while Steve will continue to provide guidance for the Prize in his new role as a Polaris board member. We look forward to an exciting new chapter at Polaris.”
The Polaris Music Prize operates as a not-for-profit organization with a 12-person board of directors.
The award was established in 2006 with a $20,000 cash prize; the prize was increased to $30,000 for the 2011 award. In May 2015, the Polaris Music Prize was increased to $50,000, an additional $20,000, sponsored by Slaight Music. Additionally, second place prizes for the nine other acts on the Short List increased from $2,000 to $3,000.
Jordan's new post at the pubcaster takes effect on March 2.