New Venue Lets Motionball Save on Decor, Add Entertainment

By Brendan Spiegel February 8, 2011, 12:45 PM EST

Photo: Allen Agostino for BizBash

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Friday evening's 10th anniversary outing of Motionball, a gala that raises money for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation, took place at the Carlu for the first time. The new setting's elegant lighting and details allowed chairman and co-founder Paul Etherington and operations coordinator Maryn McGill to put on a bigger party than in years past, while still cutting costs on decor.

“In the past two years at Capitol Theatre, we spent thousands on decor,” said Etherington. “This year, our decor really was the venue. We added a few red accents to match our colors, but really it doesn't need much enhancement.”

Meanwhile, the Carlu's expansive layout provided for space to expand the entertainment lineup. “Ten years ago, we had 600 guests and raised $45,000, and this year we raised approximately $225,000 from 1,500 guests,” Etherington said. “So we wanted a big party that would raise awareness for the Special Olympics, but also put the fun back in giving.”

With such a large crowd, Etherington and McGill opted for an event that offered a little something for everyone, from live bands and DJs to an on-site art gallery and an underwear fashion show.

The night started with a V.I.P. reception where 600 guests were treated to dinner from caterer byPeterandPauls.com, and had the option of perusing a pop-up art gallery put together by Engine Gallery, listening to live performances from Matt Dusk and others, browsing 95 items offered in a silent auction, or just relaxing in a candlelit lounge area.

As 900 additional guests started to arrive at 9 p.m., the doors to the Carlu's concert hall opened. Entertainment for the night included several more performances on a larger stage, as well as a Calvin Klein runway show. The art gallery and lounge area remained open to all guests, as did the Heineken Interactive Zone, a virtual graffiti wall sponsored by Heineken, a product of event sponsor Molson Coors. Guests could try out their tagging skills by moving a Wii-like device over a 10-foot plasma screen, and then emailing their creations to friends.

“Part of the beauty of the night was that the guests really had options—they could go from the low-key lounge area to the art gallery to the big party on the dance floor,” McGill said.

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