As a volunteer and longtime supporter of Mayor Hazel McCallion’s annual Gala, I feel I must speak out against the malicious and ill-informed attacks targeting this event in recent months. The Mayor’s Gala has provided profile for our City, impacted thousands of people and raised millions of dollars in support of arts-related initiatives over the years. It is important to all citizens that the facts be understood.
The Gala has its roots back in 1987 when members of City Council got behind the idea of holding a fundraiser to help fund an arts space which came to life in 1997 in the form of the Living Arts Centre. For 25 years this high profile social event has provided impetus to some of our City’s most generous benefactors to dig deeper and donate even more than they typically do already. The Gala is just one of numerous “good causes” that owe their existence and certainly their success to leveraging our Mayor’s well-deserved celebrity.
The Gala has always been an event primarily driven by the energies of well-intentioned volunteers. While City staff was quite involved in the coordination process during the early years of the Gala, the independent Gala Committee now operates with a professional event organizer who ensures that this complex production comes off without a hitch. It is disingenuous for some to purport not to understand that the gala has costs related to the entertainment, venue fees, production and food; consistently netting 20-30% through good times and bad should be applauded. Financially, the Gala has also moved through a maturation process as its scale and budget has evolved. After the Living Arts Centre opened some $768,000 in grants directed by the Gala Committee were paid out to support arts initiatives. (See Sidebar). In 2006, a large endowment of $2,340,000 was made to the Community Foundation of Mississauga for a perpetual fund supporting the arts. In 2008, the (independent) Hazel McCallion Foundation for Arts, Culture and Heritage was formed and since its inception has received $917,000 in proceeds from the Gala to date. The books are audited and
all proceeds are clearly earmarked for the arts as originally intended.
Anyone who has worked on an event or enterprise that, through dedication and hard work, has survived, prospered and eventually grown into a large and successful endeavor will remember that each stage of evolution brings fresh challenges and compels changes in policy and management style.
Evolving solutions require new approaches and strategies that can only come about over time. Our Gala is no different. It was and is a great idea and a tribute to the hard work of Mayor McCallion and to many hundreds of volunteers involved in putting it together year after year. Constructive criticism just makes us better, but I hope that my fellow Mississauga citizens will see those who would launch mean-spirited and self-serving attacks on our Gala for what they are. Please support the 25th Annual Mayor’s Gala on November 19th.
Proceeds prior to 1997 handled by the City and directed to Living Arts Centre
1997 $61,640 2004 $118,897
1998 $35,645 2005 $138,269
1999 $108,253 2006 $165,155
2000 $92,418 2007 $197,380
2001 $91,612 2008 $145,000
2002 $52,831 2009 $232,700
2003 $156,543 2010 $95,118
WHERE HAS THE MONEY BEEN GOING?
• Mississauga Choral Society
• Mississauga Youth Orchestra
• Chamber Music Society of Mississauga
• Community Access Program
• Mississauga’s Children Festival
• Living Arts Centre
• Art Gallery of Mississauga
• LAC Program Initiative Fund
• Mississauga Symphony
• Oscar Petersen Gala
• Orchestra Mississauga
• Mississauga Independent Film
• Streetsville 150th Celebration
• Opera Mississauga
• Vic Johnson Redevelopment Project
• Coat of Arms
• Community Foundation of Mississauga
• Hazel McCallion Foundation for Arts, Culture, and Heritage