Photo by SNAP! Star Reese de Guzman
Edward Day Gallery greeted guests last Thursday night with bright lights, devilishly handsome waiters serving champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and artsy folk mingling with the upper crust mingling with everyone in between. Not at all what one might fear upon entering a gallery in Toronto’s trendy west-end Art and Design District, and just as one would hope—fun, vibrant, but with an underlying depth to the atmosphere that precluded pretension of any sort. The truly inspiring works, coupled with the undeniable importance of the cause, created a warm, friendly atmosphere that said “all are welcome.”
The venue was host to the preview of SNAP! , the annual photography fundraiser sponsored by TD Bank for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), to be held on March 27 at the National Ballet School. In honour of the fundraiser’s tenth anniversary, the evening promised works from established Canadian and international artists, pieces created by undiscovered student talent as winners of the SNAP! Stars competition (including three Toronto-based students: Ana Čop, Reese de Guzman, and Elise Windsor), but also, as a special feature for this year, ten “one offs”—one-of-a-kind pieces created by renowned artists like Kevin Kelly and Sonja Scharf—especially for SNAP!
Photo by SNAP! Star Elise Windsor.
In a brief, heartfelt speech delivered by director of development Daniel Knox, those new to the event learned a few things not printed in the program: That two people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every day in Toronto; that the event, which to date has garnered over one million dollars for ACT, had its inception as a lightbulb moment at another charity event in support of HIV/AIDS,
The passion in his voice was met with an equally passionate round of applause that was clearly not just for him, but for the whole organization of people in front and behind the scenes who turned this event into a success—success that might not have been achieved without the continued support of TD, represented by Scott Mullin, vice-president of community relations.
The evening, filled with cocktails and high-minded conversation, might raise the question: can just anyone attend? Perhaps it is an unnecessary stigma, but it often seems that unless one has an “in” to this type of soirée, they are reserved for a select group. Not so, says Mullin. “Anyone can go—all you have to do is buy a ticket!” Furthermore (he conspiratorially pointed out) the fundraiser is accessible to a variety of income brackets, particularly with the silent auction (which can be viewed online prior to the event) because it is within a lower price range than the live auction, giving people the chance to choose how and when they want to spend their money. And a bonus? It’s held at the National Ballet School—a rare treat to be allowed into a gem of Toronto architecture that is normally off-limits to passersby.
Photo by SNAP! Star Ana Čop.
Most importantly, though, is where and how this money (once raised amidst good wine, good food, and good company) is spent. The simple answer is that, with increasing cuts in government funding and with more people living with HIV in Toronto now than ever before—yes, it’s true—the money raised through the SNAP! fundraiser is indispensable in AIDS awareness prevention, but also in “reducing social isolation, building stronger communities, and improving mental health as well as physical health,” says Hazelle Palmer, executive director for ACT.
Both regulars and tourists in the arts scene will find that the heart of SNAP! goes beyond the beautiful works of art and towards supporting an organization dedicated to helping many.
Go here for further information on SNAP! and ticket sales.
This post originally stated that more people are living with AIDS in Toronto now than ever before, when the correct statistic is that there are more Torontonians living with HIV than any time in the past. In addition, a speech given at the event was attributed to co-chair Michael Barrack, when in fact it was delivered by director of development Daniel Knox. We regret the errors.