Milwaukee Business Journal: UPAF to allocate over $8 million to southeast Wisconsin performing arts organizations

Margaret Naczek | September 28, 2021

The United Performing Arts Fund's 2021 annual campaign raised $10,148,461 this year, the bulk of which will go to 40 performing arts organizations in eastern Wisconsin, including UPAF's 14 member groups.

The organization shared the campaign total Tuesday evening at its virtual campaign finale.

"In September 2020, the UPAF Board set a 2021 goal of $10M with its annual budget. UPAF established a $11.3M fundraising target knowing the need would be great for UPAF Members due to shut downs and significant losses in ticket revenue," UPAF said in an emailed statement.

The 2021 community campaign co-chairs included West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. senior vice president and chief financial officer Heather Dunn, BMO Private Bank regional president Steve Johnson and Medical College of Wisconsin senior vice president of strategic alliances and business development Greg Wesley

In 2019, UPAF raised $11.9 million and in 2020, the organization raised $11.1 million with $1.1 million as a result of one-time gifts received in the honor of then departing CEO Deanna Tillisch as well as a legacy foundation gift.

“Coming off of a year with an exceptionally large number of legacy gifts as well as in support of the performing arts during a time of total shutdown, we knew that we were setting an ambitious target,” UPAF president and CEO Patrick Rath said in a press release. “We are pleased to have surpassed our budget goal during this unprecedented time, with a fundraising total of $10.148M, providing critical support to UPAF Members and expanding greater support to more organizations through our Affiliate program that are valuable to the community.”

Of the over $10 million, $7,898,203 will go to 40 performing arts organizations. 98% of that amount is allocated for UPAF's 14 member groups, which include First Stage, Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Skylight Music Theatre. Members include Bel Canto Chorus, Black Arts MKE, Danceworks, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), Next Act Theatre, Present Music and Renaissance Theaterworks.