By Lincoln DePradine
On a weekend filled with numerous activities in Toronto, City Councillor Michael Thompson chose to be at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Saturday for a special cultural event – the fourth annual Diamond Ball.
The event was organized by ArtXperimental, a not-for-profit group that describes its mission as being able to support “emerging and established artists’’ It also says it aims to encourage “dialogue and experimentation through workshops, events and exhibition opportunities’’.
For Councillor Thompson, it was ” an important networking opportunity.”
“As chair of economic development and community development for the City of Toronto, my business is to promote business and to create more opportunities for businesses,’’ Thompson, Deputy Mayor for the east area of Toronto, told The Caribbean Camera.
He lauded the number of “young, talented and creative individuals’’ who were present at the ball.
“It’s a nice connection, it’s a nice fit; and it’s also great to see all these amazingly elegant people celebrating a beautiful evening in the City of Toronto,’’ said Thompson.
“It’s where our thought leaders and our business leaders get together. It’s where the community comes to celebrate as part of Black History,’’ he added. “It’s where business leaders are, communicating with one another, networking and looking at opportunities to be able to grow their businesses to create more opportunities for everyone, in general, to ensure greater prosperity in the Black community.’’
Diamond Ball producer and artistic director of ArtXperimental, Shawn Cuffie, said his intent was to “make my community proud’’. The aim, he explained, was to “show people that we can do great things just like everyone else’’, and also “to get all the people together to celebrate and see each other in the same space’’.
According to Cuffie, the goal each year, is to step up the ball a notch, with “a little more life, entertaining, exciting artists and creativity’’.
The Diamond Ball is about “celebrating Black excellence’’, said MPP Jill Andrews, the NDP arts and culture critic.
“This room is filled with community leaders, activists, educators, scholars and others; we’re taking in arts and culture. It’s a dynamic room,’’ Andrews said. It’s all about celebrating our Black history, our Black futures and our aspirations.’’
Chinedu Ezemenari, a men’s wear specialist and founder of C.E. Clothier, said the ball was ” one of the marquee events that I make a point to attend every year.”
“I think it’s very important that something like this is held; something opulent, something luxurious, for the Black community. It’s important and I won’t miss it, ’’ said Ezemenari who specializes in designing custom men’s luxury wear such as handmade suits, shirts, blazers and vests.
In establishing C.E. Clothier about five years ago, Ezemenari said he was following his passion.
He noted that 2018 “went very well’’ for his company.
“A few of our suits were showcased at the Emmy Awards and some were featured in GQ. This year we’re trying build on what we did last year,” he said.
The Diamond Ball was sponsored by TD Bank as part of its Black History Month series of cultural events.