On March 23 at the Bell Centre, three organizations banded together to create a magical evening
A whopping $1,430,000 has flooded into three mental health organizations in Montreal after a wildly successful fundraiser event at the Bell Centre on March 23. This is the second Bal des lumières that the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Foundation, the Fondation de l’institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and the Mental Illness Foundation have put on together, the first having grossed $1.1 million.
“The spirit of cooperation that brought these three major foundations together tonight has resulted in unmatched mobilization, which in turn will lead to innovative treatments, quality care and increased awareness. Montreal is an inclusive city focused on its people. We value warmth, solidarity, openness and tolerance, all of which our citizens take to heart. Mental illness can affect anyone; we must keep fighting prejudice,” said Montreal mayor, Denis Coderre.
According to Suzanne Bélanger, the general director of the Douglas Foundation, each organization brings different things to the table, such as prevention work in high schools, patient care and research. Uniting their efforts, as well as teaming up with Bell and Evenko, allowed these three to put on an extraordinary, elegant event and raise funds that will be helpful, even essential, for the work ahead.
“Funding for mental health is, despite the fact that we talk a lot more about it, [still not] where it is for other important causes such as [the] heart or cancer. It is still a bit underfunded and there’s still stigmatization and therefore it’s a bit more of an effort to do something like [this],” said Bélanger.
Over 850 guests enjoyed the blue-lit ambience and magical atmosphere of the evening. The first part featured cocktails, wine and hors d’oeuvres. A red carpet led into the hallways of the Bell Centre where appetizers swirled as much as hemlines. Guests were able to pose in front of three different photo stations and delight in their fancied glory. A robust and beautiful ice bar supported rows upon rows of glasses of champagne awaiting the hands of guests to pluck them. Behind this, a decorative backdrop, squares of ice strung vertically from which drops of water fell down, glimmering in the lights that soaked the room.
The dinner and entertainment portion of the evening was opened by Geoff Molson, the co-owner, president and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club, Bell Centre and Evenko, and was then led by the MC of the evening, Isabelle Racicot. And although he expressed his regret at not being able to attend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote a personal message that was read out to the crowd.
Under the artistic direction of theatre director and actor Denis Bouchard, musicians, dancers, circus performers and magicians lent their talents to the evening. The first performance was from Brigitte M whose operatic voice harnessed a variety of song genres, the second was magician Luc Langevin, the third, the incredibly acrobatic Dominic Lacasse, and finally, Diva5 finished off the evening with an upbeat vocal performance. Along with these performances, three mini documentary portraits were screened for the guests, making their contributions more tangibly worthwhile with the presentation of real people’s experiences.
These artistic aspects of the evening were enjoyed by guests as they worked their way through a staggered three-course meal. The strength of the artistic direction of the entertainment was in its wide variety. By bracketing the evening with musicality and inserting awe-striking slight of hand and acrobatics between the documentary videos and speeches, the guests were consistently engaged. Yet, the blue-lit ambience, misty setting, gorgeous dining sets and all around intricate decoration was enough creativity and passion to satisfy the hunger for art and entertainment in the evening.
These three organizations reaped the benefit of an exquisite, elegant night. For all the pleasure it gave to those it attended, it will do just as much good within the work and development of these foundations.
For more information, visit http://www.baldeslumieres.com/en/, where you can find links to the organizations’ websites and learn how to donate and/or get involved.