The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Ball
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts saw 900 guests out on the evening of Nov. 26 for the 62nd edition of the museum’s most important fundraising ball. By night’s end, $1.2-million net was raised to support forward-thinking programs and blockbuster exhibitions. This event was the museum’s first big gala since 2019, and the energy in the room as a result was bright and buoyant.
A series of galleries were transformed for the evening into nine ravishing dining rooms. Murals by artist Nicolas Party, part of his now concluded solo exhibition Nicolas Party: L’heure mauve at the MMFA, were the backdrop for a number of the spaces. The ball was to be their send off, with painting over to take place a couple days later.
In the most central gallery, guests at Party-inspired tables and settings were hosted by the evening’s honourary chair Maxime Ménard, president and CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser, with co-chair Jean-François Côté, president and CEO of Sharethrough. In another gallery, pine, fir and spruce were suspended from the ceiling, snaking above black-tied dinner guests, and in front of me at dinner were poufs of fresh flowers referencing Party’s landscape of joyful peaches, which floated on the wall nearby. On display too were works from the MMFA’s permanent collection for one night only. A monumental work by beloved multidisciplinary Quebec artist Françoise Sullivan hung in one of the rooms, with the artist, who was this year’s guest of honour, seated nearby. Anne-Séguin Poirier, artistic director and scenographer, lead the team responsible for the triumphant decor. The museum’s penchant for Insta-worthy visual and experiential moments was on full display and I can’t think of any other museum in Canada that would use works from their permanent collection to decorate a gala dining room.
Following dinner, the Museum After-Ball, an event organized for donors of the Young Philanthropists’ Circle and the Angel Circle, was already in full swing. Among those out supporting the MMFA: Reitman’s CEO Stephen Reitman and his wife, Julia; Vidéotron CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau and his wife, Pascale Bourbeau; from the museum was Jo-Anne Duchesne, director general of the MMFA Foundation; André Dufour, chair of the board of trustees, and Stéphane Aquin, the MMFA’s director; also there was Valérie Plante, mayor of Montreal, and Québec premiere François Legault, and his wife Isabelle Brais.
The Salah Bachir Show in support of St. Joseph’s Health Centre
Speaking of premieres, the following night in Toronto, Salah Bachir staged the 7th edition of his eponymous show with a gala dinner for 350 guests and a performance by Sarah McLachlan, which raised more than $1.5-million for Toronto’s St. Joseph Health Centre. Ontario Premier Doug Ford was in attendance and spoke to his government’s $1-billion in funding to redevelop and provide an expansion of the centre.
The evening was co-chaired by Chris Bratty, president of the Remington Group Inc., and his wife, Tamara, who serves on the hospital’s board. Diane Kazarian, the board’s chair, was also there, as was Maria Dyck, president, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation. To my right at dinner was theatre producer David Daniels, at left was his wife, Kate Alexander Daniels, who was on the event committee, author and comedian Rick Mercer, and his partner, producer Gerald Lunz, were across. Elsewhere in the room was singer Murray McLauchlan, fashion plate Suzanne Rogers and artist Andrea Bolley.