This Past Friday, July 5 Mayor Scott Gillingham invited Winnipeggers to join him on Saturday, October 5 to celebrate the Arts in an event called The Winnipeg 150 Mayors Ball. This Gala will be held at the RBC Convention Centre. 

This fundraiser will raise money for four of Winnipeg’s most recognized arts organizations, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Opera, and the Royal Manitoba Theater Centre.  

Since the COVID pandemic, arts organizations across the country have been fighting to get audience numbers up to pre-pandemic levels. The process has been hard fought, but there is cause for optimism as audience numbers do seem to be climbing. 

The money raised at the gala will help provide a little bit of relief from the financial turmoil that the COVID pandemic left; to these four artistically vital organizations in the city. 

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Angela Birdsell took the job as ED in 2021, right in the middle of the pandemic. Since she was hired there have been several obstacles that have had to be overcome in the wake of COVID. Thankfully, the Board of the WSO set aside a reserve fund, expecting that audience numbers would be down post-pandemic. As Birdsell explains, “This past year we were still riding a little bit on the fumes from those COVID reserves, but we are not back at full force, we are still hovering around 63 or 64 percent.” This is something that arts organizations across the country have been dealing with. As she goes on to explain, “Arts organizations of all shapes and sizes are reeling. Of all the industry sectors, finance, transportation, hospitality retail etc, the arts are the worst hit, and of the arts, the performing arts continue to be the worst hit because we are heavily reliant on in-person ticket sales.” 

The announcement of the Mayor’s ball for the arts is welcome news to Birdsell and the fact that the arts in Winnipeg are on the city’s radar is very comforting. “I am thrilled with the announcement of this Mayor’s ball. The city understands how important arts and culture are to our community, and to the downtown area. I think this is going to be an incredibly celebratory event. We are going to have some amazing showcase artists from our four organizations.” 

The Winnipeg Arts Council released a report that states that the arts sector creates 1.6 billion dollars in GDP for the city. The continued vibrancy of arts organizations is crucial to having a healthy downtown. As Birdsell says “The arts organizations bring people [Downton] all year round. We figured out that we bring a million people to downtown Winnipeg...I love the Jets don’t get me wrong, I love hockey... but I saw on the Jets website they bring 560,000 people downton, and collectively we bring a million.” 

The Mayor’s 150 Ball for the Arts on Saturday, October 5th at the RBC Convention Centre marks a great step forward to helping to ensure that The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Opera, and the Royal Manitoba Theater Centre will come out of the pandemic wake and continue to sail smoothly. 

For more details on how to buy tickets or sponsorships for the event visit the Winnipeg 150 Mayor's Ball website.