1. Funding
  2. Prizes
  3. John Hirsch Prizes
  4. Guidelines: John Hirsch Prize

John Hirsch Prize


The Canada Council is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from culturally diverse, Deaf, disability and official language minority artists, groups and organizations. The Canada Council recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples of this land and encourages applications and nominations from First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, groups, and organizations in all its programs. Measures are in place in all programs to support these commitments.

The John Hirsch Prize was created in 1995 to recognize the artistic merit and potential of emerging theatre directors.

On his death in 1989, the distinguished theatre director John Hirsch left a bequest to the Canada Council to “aid and encourage young Canadian directors”. The John Hirsch Prize is a tribute to the extraordinary contribution Mr. Hirsch made to theatre in Canada, most notably as founder of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, head of television drama for the CBC and artistic director of the Stratford Festival.

Deadline – 1 October 2023

Your completed application form and all required support material must be submitted by email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time). The Canada Council will not assess late or incomplete applications.

Application limits ­- you may receive this award only once in a lifetime

Notification of results – approximately 4 months after the deadline date

Prize amount – $6,000

Two prizes of $6,000 may be awarded, one in each of the English-language and French-language competitions.

Eligibility – Who can apply?

This is a prize for emerging theatre directors. There is no age restriction for this prize. Individuals with no more than 10 years of experience as a professional theatre director can apply. The 10-year period is calculated from the application deadline date. Your application should demonstrate a history of professional theatre direction.

You must also be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. You do not need to be living in Canada.

You must also meet the Canada Council’s definition of a professional artist, which is an artist who:

  • has specialized training in the field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
  • is recognized as such by peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
  • is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially
  • has a history of public presentation.

Candidates working in any language are encouraged to apply.

Application/Nomination Assistance and Access Support

Application/Nomination Assistance contributes to costs for services to help with a prize application or nomination for individuals who self-identify as: 

  • Deaf, hard of hearing, having a disability or living with a mental illness
  • First Nations, Inuit or Métis facing language, geographic and/or cultural barriers.

To submit a request, contact the prizes officer 4 weeks prior to the deadline.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. A peer assessment committee, composed of experienced professionals selected for their expertise in their field of practice, will assess the eligible applications. Committee members will also be selected with consideration to fair representation of artistic specializations, Canada’s 2 official languages, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, Deaf and disability communities, gender, age and the cultural and regional diversity of Canada.

An English-language committee assesses nominations submitted in English, and a French-language committee assesses nominations submitted in French.

The peer assessment committees may decide not to award one or both prizes.

All peer assessment committee recommendations are final.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be evaluated based on the following weighted criteria, which refer specifically to your work and career as a theatre director:

Artistic Merit (50%)

  • Your accomplishments to date
  • The artistic quality of your dramatic works
  • The clarity of your artistic vision

Impact (40%)

  • Your potential to advance your career

Relevance (10%)

  • Your contributions towards a more equitable, diverse and inclusive society

Required information and support material – What you need to apply

Please refer to the application form for detailed instructions.

  • Curriculum vitae (3 pages maximum)
  • Biography (150 words maximum)
  • Artistic statement (2 pages maximum)
  • Letters of support (2 letters of 2 pages each maximum)

Application preparation

  • The Canada Council will make decisions about your eligibility based on the information you provide.
  • You are responsible for providing all the information and support material requested.
  • Submit only the material requested. Additional material will not be shown to the peer assessment committee.
  • Carefully choose your support material as committee members have limited time in which to review each application.
  • In addition to filling out your contact information in the application form, please ensure that the information is up to date on the Canada Council’s portal, if you have an account.

Personal information

Personal information collected in this application shall be used for purposes related directly to the program, service or activity of the Canada Council.

The Canada Council may share personal information from applications and nominations for awards with officials in other arts and cultural industry funding agencies and government institutions on a confidential basis. Shared information is limited to your name, contact information, field of practice and project description, and is provided to assist with research, reporting, program planning and evaluation, to present networking or economic opportunities, or to respond to federal reviews. For more information on how your personal information is protected, see our Privacy Notice.

Prize terms and conditions

If your application is successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter.

Prize payment

Winners cannot receive the prize money until all overdue final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved.

This prize will not be awarded posthumously.

Participation in promotional activities

The winners must agree to allow their photographs and public information to be used for promotion of the prize and in other Canada Council promotional initiatives.

Previous winners

Visit the John Hirsch Prize web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit an application

Send your completed application form and the required support material as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time) to johnhirsch-prizes@canadacouncil.ca. The maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 3 business days, please contact us.

Contact information

Lori Knoll

Program Officer, Prizes


1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext.5573