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on the scene

A wine festival in Vancouver and a writers' gala in Toronto

Vancouver's International Wine Festival raises funds for the performing arts, and Pen Canada supports the champions of freedom of expression

Charlie Foran and Martin Amis.

Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, Vancouver

The Vancouver International Wine Festival, considered the best of its kind in this country, celebrated its 40th edition on Feb. 24 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. For the past 30 years, on the eve of the festival's opening, the Bacchanalia Gala dinner and auction is held, an always sold-out evening that sees Vancouver's passionate wine collectors gather en masse to bid on the rarest of bottles for a cause. A 1983 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche and 11 bottles of Gruaud Larose and Osoyoos Larose verticals were the big lots that drew big bids, which contributed to the more than $200,000 the event raised. Since 1979, the festival has raised an impressive $9-million for the performing arts, and since 2013, funds from the to-do, which total near the $1-million mark, have supported Bard on the Beach, Canada's largest not-for-profit professional Shakespeare festival.

Sid and Joan Cross.

Christopher Gaze with wife, Jennifer.

Stephanie Hungerford with Claire Sakaki.

The 2018 Pen Canada Gala Dinner, Toronto

Earlier that week back in Toronto, Pen Canada hosted its annual fundraiser on Feb. 20 at The Great Hall. Award-winning British novelist Martin Amis loaned his wit to the cause, joining novelist and biographer Charlie Foran on-stage for a conversation that took place postdinner. The two talked writing and writers, and the work PEN International does to support authors worldwide. The organization is, at its core, focused on advocating writers' rights to the freedom of expression, important work that was underlined during the gala, which also served as a celebration of the recent release of Ethiopian journalists Woubshet Taye, Zelalem Workagegnehu and Eskinder Nega. The latter won Pen America's 2012 Pen/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and Pen Canada's 2015 One Humanity Award and served more than six years of an 18-year prison sentence on terrorism-related charges – charges that were made up as revenge for critical reporting.

Kate Ziegler and Michael Bookman.

Mary Ladky and Brendan de Caires.

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