Annamaria Bamji Award for Emerging Playwrights

Date posted: October 12, 2021

Annamaria wearing the hat she purchased from the Belfry’s costumes for A Doll’s House Part 2. Photo by Susan Stevenson

Annamaria Bamji (nee Carnelos) is remembered as a good friend to the Belfry Theatre with a broad appreciation for playwrighting and the performing arts. Annamaria, who had a Master’s in Art History from Queen’s University, benefited from an early exposure to philanthropy with her mother who supported orphans during war-time Italy as well as encouraged visual artists.

Annamaria took great pleasure in contributing to the arts. When thanked for her generous gifts to the Belfry, she would usually respond lightly with one of her favourite sayings, “Well, you can’t take it with you…” followed by her memorable laugh. She cited two very different Belfry productions Glorious (2007)and The Rez Sisters (2014) as highly memorable for her.

Perry and Annamaria met in Banbury, Oxfordshire. He originally came from Bombay and she from Milan. They also lived in Shizuoka, Japan and Kingston, Ontario while Perry worked for Alcan International for 28 years as a research scientist and Program Director. For eleven years Perry taught at the Queens University School of Business in Kingston before they retired to Victoria in 2006, where they quickly became dedicated patrons of the local arts

A few years ago, the Bamjis made thoughtful provisions in their joint estate plans for several local charities, including the Belfry. Since Annamaria passed away suddenly in December 2020, Perry has made it his mission to honour his wife’s memory with remarkable outcomes. He has endowed a new award at the Belfry: The Annamaria Bamji Award for Emerging Playwrights, which will be awarded annually to an artist between 19 to 29 years old. He has also posthumously published a local history book written by Annamaria about Italians in Victoria, entitled Veni, Vidi, Vici: Life sketches of Italian immigrants who settled in Victoria during the gold rush of the late 1850s and are buried in Ross Bay Cemetery (available by donation).

The Belfry Box Office area was named by the Bamjis when they made a generous multi-year contribution to support the 2017 Capital Campaign. As they said at the time, “The future of the company depends on what we do today.” They were very pleased with the renovations including the backlit stained-glass windows, and the addition of a new little play library in the lobby, predicting that “The foyer is where people meet and talk and if the ambience is great, people will enjoy spending time there.”

For more information on legacy giving or this article, contact Susan Stevenson, Director of Development, at development@belfry.b.ca. or 250-385-6835 ext. 229.

For more information on the Annamaria Bamji Award for Emerging Playwrights: https://www.belfry.bc.ca/the-new-incubator-project-2022-call-for-submissions/