Bloor Street Entertains celebrated its 15th anniversary this year with the theme Red Ribbon, Black Tie. The fund-raiser for Canfar took over 20 top-notch retailers on Bloor, hosting simultaneous dinner parties. While an after-party at the Royal Ontario Museum
normally follows the dinners, in honour of the anniversary, Canfar hosted The Show, a concert and tribute ceremony at the Royal Conservatory of Music in the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning
. “The main focus for the change was to identify and recognize long-term supporters,” said Scott Koch, president of Spinradius
, the company that produced the event for Canfar.
The event began with a cocktail reception and dinner for 778 guests. They were dispersed among 20 different venues on Toronto’s “mink mile,” near Bloor and Yonge, from Tiffany & Co. to Ferrari Maserati. Each venue was designed differently to represent the company brand, with a notable chef cooking in each. Timing for the dinner parties had to be just right, with all the guests in their seats at the Royal Conservatory by 10 p.m. “It’s a beast to organize, but it all comes down to everyone doing their part,” said Paul Oakley, co-owner of Spinradius and manager of the dinner party portion of the event. Decor highlights from the dinner parties included Seneca student-designed ice and floral centerpieces at Harry Rosen, custom-made velvet tablecloths at Holt Renfrew, and a woodsy Muskoka-vibe at Roots.
The Show attracted 900 guests and included a tribute ceremony to long-time supporters of Bloor Street Entertains and a performance from Keshia Chanté.
“There were three key pieces we wanted to work with: red ribbon, black tie, and crystal [commemorating the 15th anniversary],” said Koch, who headed decor and production of The Show, along with Bassett Events and Seneca students Bemi Douglas and Diana Li. Red and black decor items were prominent, and the walls were uplit in red. Crystal spheres hung from the ceiling in the reception area, and on stage in Koerner Hall, guests spoke behind a crystalline podium.
Organizers found it challenging to properly thank all of the volunteers this year. In past years, they were invited to the after-party. “We didn’t have the space to have that kind of party,” Koch said. Instead, Canfar hosted a second party, exclusively for volunteers.
Bloor Street Entertains is Canfar’s largest annual fund-raiser and has raised more than $4 million for HIV and AIDS research. While totals for this year are still being tabulated, organizers expect it to be one of the highest netting years yet.