UPAF launches $11.3 million community campaign


The United Performing Arts Fund has set a fundraising goal of $11.3 million for its 2021 community campaign.

UPAF leaders announced the fundraising target during a virtual launch event Wednesday evening, saying the campaign comes at a critical time for the region’s performing arts.

“Throughout 2021, we are shining the spotlight on the amazing creative talent that is essential to our quality of life,” said Patrick Rath, president and chief executive officer of UPAF. “While the 14 UPAF member groups have experienced a collective loss of more than $22 million due to COVID-19, our talented local artists, on stage and behind the curtain, never wavered as they innovated in order to continue entertaining and inspiring. We are now asking the community to play their part in supporting the work of these local artists with a gift to the 2021 UPAF Community Campaign.”

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The campaign is being co-chaired by Heather Dunn, senior vice president and chief financial officer at West Bend Mutual Insurance Company; Steve Johnson, regional president of BMO Private Bank; and Greg Wesley, senior vice president of strategic alliances and business development at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“The performing arts often reflect the moment in time and plays a vital role in helping our community heal,” Wesley said. “When we can safely gather, the performing arts will be an inspirational leader to so many corners of our community. Every gift is appreciated. It is like a ‘standing ovation’ for the thousands of artists that make this community home.”

The 2021 UPAF community campaign runs from March 3 through May 26.

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UPAF’s 2020 campaign brought in about $11.36 million in fundraising and another $304,000 in grant revenue, which exceeded leaders’ initial projections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPAF solicits funds on behalf of the region’s performing arts groups, including First Stage, Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Skylight Music Theatre, Bel Canto Chorus, Black Arts MKE, Danceworks, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), Next Act Theatre, Present Music and Renaissance Theaterworks.

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