Treasuring the legacy of the Brazilian Carnival Ball

The legacy of the Brazilian Carnival Ball and its founder, the late Anna Maria de Souza, will be preserved for future generations thanks to the generous donation of the Brazilian Ball archives to York University by her husband Ivan de Souza.

Right: Heather Gotlieb (left), wife of Max Gotlieb, member of the York University Foundation Board of Directors, with Anna Maria de Souza at the 2006 Brazilian Carnival Ball in support of the Accolade Project in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. The Gotliebs were the co-chairs of the 2006 Ball.

Ivan de Souza, together with Helen Vari, a dear friend of Mrs. de Souza, conceived of the idea of preserving these precious memories and making them accessible to the community, past and future Ball beneficiaries, scholars and students around the world in perpetuity. “What better way to pay tribute to a remarkable team in Anna Maria and Ivan, and ensure others learn from their shining example,” says Vari, who is a former member of the York University Board of Governors. Vari served as a member from 1990 to 2002, and is now an honorary member of the York University Board of Governors.

Left: Anna Maria de Souza and Ivan de Souza dressed for the 1985 Brazilian Carnival Ball

The collection includes photos, framed honours and awards received by Mrs. de Souza, sceptres presented to Mrs. de Souza at past Brazilian Balls, programs, letters of appreciation, financial records and media clippings from the Ball’s more than 42-year history. Records will document the transition of the Brazilian Ball from a church basement in 1966 to a spectacular gala attended by a host of well-known leaders from business, society and government.

“Anna Maria transformed philanthropy in this city,” says York University Foundation President & CEO Paul Marcus. “Her warm, caring and dynamic personality inspired all of us. Together, Anna Maria and Ivan have touched the lives of countless individuals through their leadership and many good deeds.”

Right: Anna Maria de Souza and then prime minister Brian Mulroney at the 1988 Brazilian Carnival Ball

There will be a travelling exhibit built by Library staff – featuring permanent panels devoted to Mrs. de Souza and the history of the Ball, and a new panel prepared each year to celebrate the work of the current beneficiary. “The display would be available on the night of the Ball so that guests can be reminded of the immense heritage behind the event,” explains Michael Moir, University archivist and head, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections.

Moir expects the collection will draw an international audience of people interested in culture, dance and the Brazilian diaspora and in the importance of achieving positive social change through charitable works.

The Brazilian Carnival Ball, which raises money for causes in health care, research, culture and education in Toronto and Brazil, benefited York University’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution in 1998, as well as York’s Accolade Project in the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2006, the Ball’s 40th anniversary.

The gift also supports York to the Power of 50, the University’s fundraising campaign – already at more than $150 million in pledges or three-quarters of the way toward its $200-million goal.