Villa Charities Annual Report 2019 - Page 7

FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO Villa Charities Inc. (VCI) has continued to reinforce our position as a leading provider of Italian culture in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2019, we developed and presented many high-quality cultural events and exhibitions, attracting numerous members of the broader community and significantly expanding our media coverage compared with past years. Inside the Columbus Centre and across our Lawrence/Dufferin campus, many exciting developments, facility improvements and new projects also took root during the year. Investing in Our Future Our organization made significant progress with our multi-year project to repair and replace aging facilities and infrastructure. This initiative, which got underway in 2018, reflects VCI’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable and vibrant future. Along with our affiliates, we spent approximately $2.6 million in 2019 to improve parking facilities, replace HVAC systems, upgrade IT and electrical infrastructure, and to undertake other repairs and improvements. The enhancements were most visible at the Columbus Centre, where we undertook a major initiative to optimize the use and enhance the quality of our facilities. The renovations included brand new dance, music and art studios, and enhancements to our Athletic Club facilities. The installation of a new digital sign outside the Columbus Centre’s Lawrence Avenue entrance was emblematic of our ongoing renewal. The new sign put a fresh face on our street front as it promoted our ever-expanding cultural offerings and enhanced programming. We also continued to invest in culture through the development of high-quality events, programs and exhibitions. These included: Cultural Tuesdays, our popular series of free, illustrated talks focusing on Italian cinema, cuisine, literature and more; the Diaspora Series, featuring new presentations and installations exploring Italian culture, society and influence in American history; Ristorante Boccaccio’s popular regional theme nights; thought-provoking art exhibitions; Italian Heritage Month events celebrating Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death; our new summer “Villa Al Fresco” series featuring family-friendly events such as Movies Under the Stars; world premieres of two original theatrical productions; and much more. Welcoming New Tenants to Our Campus During 2019, we built a more vibrant community of complementary organizations on our campus as we welcomed two new tenants and got ready for a third tenant to join us in 2020. TLN Media Group’s corporate and multicultural media production headquarters, and the studios and faculty of the Academy of Realist Art, a private institution that teaches old master-style drawing and painting, relocated to our campus in the fall. We also prepared for the arrival of Leonardo Da Vinci Academy, a prestigious independent Montessori-centred school, in 2020. All three organizations have strong connections with the Italian-Canadian community and offer programs and services that add value to our campus. The excellent progress we made in 2019 would not have been possible without the direction and leadership of VCI Board Chair Santo Veltri, his colleagues on the VCI Board and our superb leadership team along with the tireless efforts of VCI’s dedicated staff. To all of them, I offer sincere thanks for their contributions to our success. Sincerely, Villa Charities Inc. Anthony DiCaita PRESIDENT AND CEO Consolidated Annual Report 2019 | 7