Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: United Performing Arts Fund raises more than $10.1 million in its second annual campaign since COVID-19 began

Jim Higgins | September 28, 2021

The United Performing Arts Fund raised $10,148,461 for local performing arts organizations during its recently concluded 2021 campaign, UPAF announced Tuesday.

This was UPAF's second fundraising campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many groups were performing virtually, if at all, and many people were working remotely, making workplace campaigns more challenging.

UPAF raised $11,662,693 during its 2020 campaign. That total included $304,000 in grant revenue and $720,000 raised for Kasey's Fund, a one-time initiative to support arts accessibility, named after outgoing UPAF CEO Deanna Tillisch's daughter Kasey, who was born with a chromosomal deletion that makes her unable to walk, talk, read or write, but who is an enthusiastic music lover.

As a result of the 2021 campaign, UPAF will allocate a total of $7,729,203 to its 14 member groups, which include the Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and First Stage. And it will distribute $169,500 in grants to 26 other groups. The combined total of 40 recipients is a record for UPAF, it reported in its statement.

UPAF has not yet finalized specific allocations for the coming season. 

UPAF gave its volunteer of the year award to Amelia Kegel, vice president of Wheel & Sprocket. It also honored Vince Vitrano of WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) for "significant contributions in the promotion of UPAF and the performing arts."

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