On October 27, The 519’s Honorary Patron, Salah Bachir presented the 15th Annual Gala and raised $350,000 in support of The 519, the most prominent LGBTQ2S service provider and community centre in Canada. The evening’s program took the form of a welcome reception, then dinner, followed by a cabaret-style performance by the Tony, Emmy, and Grammy award-winning singer and actor Patti LuPone.
Over her illustrious stage career, Ms. LuPone has been nominated for the Tony Award seven times, for the Drama Desk Award seven times, and for the Laurence Olivier Award three times. Ms. LuPone played Eva Peron in the 1979 original Broadway production of Evita, for which she won her first Tony Award, Fantine in the original London cast of Les Miserables, and Rose in the 2008 Broadway revival of Gypsy, for which she won her second Tony Award. She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2006. On television, Ms. LuPone has appeared in many shows including Life Goes On, Frasier, Penny Dreadful, Will & Grace, American Horror Story, and Pose.
The evening began with remarks by host Mathieu Chantelois, a pre-taped welcome message from Mr. Bachir, and then a special look-back reel of the past 15 years of the Annual Gala. Singer Jillea, dressed up as Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast later welcomed everyone with “Be Our Guest” and then all enjoyed two beautiful original songs from singer-pianist Theo Tams.
With a powerful opening number of Cole Porter’s “Don’t Monkey with Broadway”, headliner Patti LuPone took the audience through her personal journey from being an avid childhood fan of Broadway songs on vinyl and TV shows to becoming an iconic Broadway star. Highlights included a rousing “Some People” from Gypsy, “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife, “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, and a show-stopping “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from Evita. LuPone then passed a top hat and audience members picked the next few songs including the rapid-fire “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man, and “If’ I’d Been a Man” from War Paint. The memorable evening ended with a riveting “Somewhere” from West Side Story.
The presenting sponsor was BMO. The entertainment sponsor was Slaight Family Foundation. Sponsors were Cineplex Media and Mantella Corporation. VIP table purchasers were Canada Media Fund, Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, Labbatt Breweries, TJF Investments. Table purchasers were Salah Bachir and Jacob Yerex, Bell Media, CIBC, Daniel J. Greenglass and Joe Brennan, TD Bank Group, and Andrew & Valerie Pringle. Generous support was provided by The Honourable Bill Graham and Bonte Minnema as well as Think Research. In-kind support was provided by Delta Airlines, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, and Spirit of York Distillery Co. Production services by Live Show Productions.
Guests in the room included Charlie Angelakos, Bill Coulter, Kate Alexander Daniels, Billy Newton Davis, Molly Johnson, Blair Kissack, Nancy Lockhart, Dan and Kerry McGrath, Traci Melchor, Wade Oosterman, Lynda Prince, Al Ramsay, Nada Ristich, Steven Sabados, Jaime Watt, and many more!
A City of Toronto agency and a registered charity, The 519 is committed to the health, happiness, and full participation of the LGBTQ2S communities. With an innovative model of Service, Space, and Leadership, The 519 provides programs, services, community engagement, activities, capacity-building, and advocacy.
A signature annual event organized by The 519’s honorary patron Salah Bachir, the Gala brings together a diverse crowd of philanthropists, social activists, and engaged citizens for an evening of entertainment and giving back. As a registered charity offering programs and services for underserved LGBTQ2S communities throughout the year, The 519 relies heavily on funds raised through such events and other philanthropy.
One of the most significant beneficiaries of the funds raised through the Gala is the Newcomers and Refugee Support Program that provides settlement services to LGBTQ+ refugees and claimants. From providing one-on-one settlement support to 1,507 refugee claimants, and hosting 8,902 visits to group sessions and workshops last year, The 519 has been expanding this program each year to respond to the increasing need. The pressure on the program is expected to rise further as the persecution of queer and trans people continues around the world. These realities demand an urgent focus on expanding capacity dependent on funding and support.
Other programs that depend on the generosity of our donors include our trauma-informed counselling services, programs for youth, and programs for seniors in response to the experiences of LGBTQ2S community members facing social isolation, discrimination, and violence.