Milwaukee Biz Blog: Invest in Inspiration

UPAF fundraising campaign co-chairs seek support

Milwaukee Ballet School & Academy students perform at UPAF's 50th anniversary campaign celebration.

Last updated on June 25th, 2019 at 01:37 pm

Editor’s note: This Milwaukee Biz Blog is written by 2019 UPAF fundraising campaign co-chairs James T. Barry III, Sandy Botcher and Tim Stewart. 

It is an honor for us to be tapped as co-chairs for this year’s United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) Campaign (March 4 – June 12). After many years of what can best be called a collective urban “inferiority complex,” Milwaukee has been undergoing an amazing transformation. We now commonly hear the term that Milwaukee area is a “big league” city with exciting new developments taking place all around us – the magnificent new performing spaces for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Ballet, and the newly remodeled Stackner Cabaret at The Rep are just three examples. In the case of our local performing arts groups, we perform way above our weight class, and our offerings, we’d argue, can stack up favorably against any city in the Midwest.

Tim Stewart
Sandy Botcher

We know that a night experiencing music, theater or dance can entertain and enlighten, but powerful performances can do so much more – they can inspire.

Have you ever seen a performance that was so memorable that you still remember it years after the curtain dropped? We all do. That’s the power of performance. The beauty of the arts is that we all come from a different place with varied life experiences, but we all converge and share a commonality of experiences through the magic of performance. The performing arts inspire creativity, innovation, understanding and hope – attributes that make us more informed and better people at home, in social environments and at the workplace.

The Milwaukee area’s performing arts scene sets out to entertain, but in the process, it moves and inspires us and plays with our emotions via a moving piece of music, compelling dialogue delivered by an actor or an extraordinary dance sequence done in perfect cadence to the musical accompaniment. And our local offerings are so varied (something for everyone) and our personal tastes so subjective that inspiration takes on a different meaning for all of us.

In addition to the inspirational benefits that come with enjoyment of the arts, the 14 UPAF Member Groups also share an attribute that should be important for all of us who call this region home – they are homegrown and local. Why is that important?

Because the money you invest in UPAF stays in the community. As of April 2017, the arts and cultural segment employed about 6,000 people in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties alone and generate nearly $80 million a year in event-related spending above the price of a ticket. And we all know that a robust cultural scene attracts innovative companies and talented employees.

Whether you’re an actor, musician, dancer, singer, arts administrator or one of the many creative people who work behind the scenes to make the magic happen, it’s rewarding to know that because of UPAF and the millions of dollars it allocates each year, we can sustain and grow an impressive creative economy in our community.

When you think about the performing arts and supporting this year’s UPAF campaign, we hope you will pause, support locally produced arts groups and ponder how the power of performance has inspired you.

James T. Barry III is president of the Barry Company. Sandy Botcher is vice president of field experience for Northwestern Mutual. Tim Stewart is an attorney and partner at DeWitt LLP. They are the co-chairs of the 2019 UPAF fundraising campaign.

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