About the Gala


Hosted by our masters of ceremony Helen Burstyn, the 39th BftA Awards Gala brought together almost 300 leaders from Canada’s arts and the business community. The black-tie affair featured a cocktail reception and three-course meal by the ingenuitive AGO Bistro staff. As guests were greeted by an elegant courtyard full of extravagant balloons, the feeling of celebration was immediate. Opening with a percussion Hang drum performance, the evening recognized outstanding investment in the arts by some of Canada’s leading individuals and businesses, highlighting the importance of investing in the arts and showcasing the impact business can have in fostering creative talent in Canada.

The evening’s entertainment honoured award winners with stellar performances including two outstanding alumni violinists of the National Arts Centre’s Young Artist Program, a program that the Southam Club and Diane, as its Chair has supported. Nikki and Timothy Chooi performed Sarasate Navarra for two violins, op.33 which brought us into our dinner intermission.

The second half of the ceremony featured a very special performance by Canadian musician and Music Director Emerita of Tafelmusik, Jeanne Lamon, as a tribute to award winner Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF. Piers also had a particularly special tribute video created for him by renowned Canadian-Armenian Filmmaker, Atom Egoyan. Guests were treated to a cultural performance celebrating the good Tony Gagliano has done for the arts and the Italian-Canadian community with two songs by the Italian Vesuvius Ensemble, as well as being presented with Italian citizenship by Giuseppe Pastorelli, Toronto’s Consul-General of Italy. The ceremony ended energetically with a participatory love song by Toronto’s own Royal Wood.

The concluding soirée, with passed desserts and busy bartenders, had guests connecting, laughing and celebrating our award recipients and the future of leadership and volunteerism in Canadian arts and culture.

About the Gala

The Business for the Arts’ Awards Gala is one of Canada’s most prestigious and long-standing events where national arts and business leaders come together to celebrate extraordinary contributions and commitment to the arts sector through philanthropy, unique and innovative partnerships, and volunteerism.Past winners include The Hon. Hilary M. Weston, 26th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Karen Kain, Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada; and Manulife, for their long-term partnership with Luminato Festival. A complete list of our previous award recipients can be found here.