By David Schuyler Digital Producer, Milwaukee Business Journal
The United Performing Arts Fund launched its 2018 campaign Monday with a special kickoff event at the home of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
UPAF is a Milwaukee united arts fund that raises money for operating expenses for 14 member groups and numerous affiliates. The organization also provides funds for arts education and community outreach programs.
As it did last year, UPAF did not unveil a specific fundraising goal, just hopes to beat last year’s total of $12.32 million. That marked a 1.3 percent increase from the 2016 tally of $12.16 million.
The kickoff celebration with the theme “The Year of the Artist” was emceed by Andrea WIlliams of WJMR-FM “Jammin’ 98.3 FM,” and featured four performances by UPAF member groups and remarks from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow.
Also present were the three campaign co-chairs for the 2018 campaign: Jim Borris, president and CEO of Zilber Ltd.; Susan Martin, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of WEC Energy Group; and Dave Vetta, Milwaukee region advisory board chair at First Business Bank. All three leaders have a history of community service and for supporting UPAF.
Also on hand were performers with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and First Stage. Kwasi Stampley, a young guitar player with the MYSO Summit Jazz Combo, spoke after the group performed about the role music has played in setting his direction in life and the key role of UPAF in its support of music and the arts.
“By supporting UPAF,” Stampley said, “you also support me growing as an artist.”
UPAF had originally booked husband-and wife-acting duo Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry, both of whom starred in the TV series “L.A. Law.” The couple have ties to Wisconsin, with Eikenberry being raised in Madison and Tucker serving as a member of the Milwaukee Rep from 1967 to 1970. The couple was forced to cancel their appearance due to an unforeseen health issue. The couple are slated to appear at UPAF’s finale June 13.
Milwaukee actors and former Broadway performers Andrew Varela and Susan Spencer, another husband-and-wife-acting couple, appeared in their stead to be interviewed by Williams. The couple spoke about the importance of the arts and of the strength of the performing arts community in Milwaukee.
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and Quarles & Brady LLP sponsored the UPAF campaign launch event, with in-kind support from Marcus Hotels & Resorts and Delta Air Lines.
Photos from the event can be found here.
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