Up Close and Unplugged benefit with Jim Cuddy raises $200K for NAC, Ottawa cancer foundation

Successful fundraiser started by former Newbridge executive, cancer survivor
Up Close and Unplugged

They loved him so much the first time, they just had to bring him back.

Legendary singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame once again headlined the popular Up Close and Unplugged benefit, held at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday night.

“Jim is just a great guy, and he gave such a great performance the last go-around,” Peter Charbonneau told OBJ.social at the reception held in the NAC's new City Room. It's just one of the many gorgeous new spaces at the renovated National Arts Centre.

Up Close and Unplugged
Jim Cuddy, joined by fiddler Anne Lindsay, was the featured performer at the Up Close and Unplugged benefit for the National Arts Centre Foundation and Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at the NAC on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Photo by Kara Taylor

Now in its 13th year, the invite-only Up Close and Unplugged benefit is a successful collaboration between the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and National Arts Centre Foundation. Past performers have included Matt and Jill Barber, Alan Doyle and Colin James.

“The staff at the NAC Foundation and cancer foundation do such a good job of seamlessly putting this together for us,” said Charbonneau. “It makes the job of co-chairs that much easier.” 

Charbonneau, a former senior executive at telecom company Newbridge Networks, co-chaired the benefit with fellow cancer survivor Stephen Greenberg, president of property management company Osgoode Properties, and Gregory Sanders. He’s past board chair of the cancer foundation and the head of the tax group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall.

Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Stephen Greenberg, Peter Charbonneau and Gregory Sanders at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 for the Up Close and Unplugged benefit for the NAC Foundation and Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips

This year's theme was "Evening in Manhattan." Guests sipped on their signature cocktails (manhattans, of course) while surrounded by New York City-themed signage and props. The room's centrepiece was a Central Park-like vintage carousel (it's amazing what the NAC keeps in its Tickle Trunk). Those who attended in 2014, when Cuddy first performed at Up Close, may remember the carousel's presence then, when organizers went with circus decor.

Up Close and Unplugged
Maria Bassi and John Bassi, president of Bassi Construction, pose in front of the carousel at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 for the Evening in Manhattan-themed Up Close and Unplugged benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Charbonneau sits on the NAC Foundation’s audit and finance committee and also co-chairs the ORCF’s Courage Campaign. Professionally, he sits on a couple of boards, including Mitel Networks, but considers himself mostly retired.

The story of how Charbonneau became such a keen and committed cancer fundraiser is an interesting one. Things weren’t looking good for him after he learned, years ago, that his stage-four colorectal cancer had spread to his liver. He promised his physician, Dr. Hartley Stern, that he would keep raising funds for cancer if the good doc could keep him alive. 

The gathering of 150 business leaders, sponsors and philanthropists enjoyed a three-course dinner followed by an intimate performance from Cuddy, who always puts on a captivating show, in the NAC’s transformed Fourth Stage.

Up Close and Unplugged
From left, John Ouellette, vice president of philanthropy with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, with celebrated Ottawa philanthropist Shirley Greenberg and the cancer foundation’s new board chair, Cory Ready, an investment advisor with BMO Nesbitt Burns,  at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for Up Close and Unplugged. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Erin Kasparek, Jocelyne Greenberg, Randi Sherman and her husband, EY tax partner Ian Sherman, along with  Elizabeth Vered and event co-chair Stephen Greenberg at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for the Up Close and Unplugged benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Don Smith, retired CEO of Mitel, with its current chief financial officer, Steve Spooner, and his wife, Donna, along with Eunice West and Steve West, president of Westmax Group, at the Up Close and Unplugged benefit held at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The $1,250-a-ticket benefit is usually held in June but was delayed this year due to the NAC's ambitious three-phase architectural rejuvenation project, which is near completion.

Jason Shinder, executive vice-president and principal at District Realty, ended up being the top bidder, at $9,000, on a luxury golf holiday, for two, to the five-star Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. The $5,000-package was donated by Wesley Clover, whose chairman is Ottawa high-tech legend Terry Matthews.

With Shinder’s generous bid, the evening was able to edge out its fundraising goal to raise a net total of $200,633.

Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Tani Sanders with Jason Shinder and his wife, Jenny, at the Up Close and Unplugged benefit held at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, in support of the NAC Foundation and Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Up Close and Unplugged
Mike Runia, managing partner for Deloitte Private, with his wife, Suzie Shillington, at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for the Up Close and Unplugged benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Doug McLarty, a partner at MNP LLP, with Dorothy Jackson and her husband, retired Scotiabank executive Dennis Jackson, at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 for Up Close and Unplugged, featuring Jim Cuddy. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Up Close and Unplugged
From left, Linda Eagen, president and CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, with Jayne Watson, CEO of the NAC Foundation, at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for the annual Up Close and Unplugged benefit for their respective non-profit organizations. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Up Close and Unplugged

- caroline@obj.ca