Milwaukee Business Journal Covers UPAF 50th Anniversary Campaign Launch

The United Performing Arts Fund said Monday it intends to raise more money in its 50th anniversary year than the record amount it raised last year to support the performing arts in Milwaukee.

At the organization’s kickoff event at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Monday evening, UPAF president and CEO Deanna Tillisch announced the organization’s goal of beating last years’ record fundraising effort, when it raised $12.16 million. See photos from the event in the attached slideshow.

“When we announce the final results at our June 14 Finale celebration at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, we hope to unveil a new record for the fifth year in a row,” Tillisch said.

In its 50 years, UPAF has raised more than $300 million in support of performing arts in the region.

UPAF hit a new record for fundraising in 2016, but it did not meet a $12.26 million goal. UPAF raises operating funds for 15 member performing arts groups and numerous affiliate organizations.

UPAF’s 50th Anniversary Campaign co-chairs Betsy Brenner, former publisher of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Linda Gorens-Levey, a partner with General Capital Group; and Alex Kramer, market leader for the Private Client Reserve of U.S Bank, each played a role in the event. A 50th Anniversary video, funded by Rockwell Automation and featuring Milwaukee-area actor and improv comedian Jacob Bach, was also screened.

“UPAF’s 50th Anniversary is a milestone campaign and an opportunity to celebrate the performing arts,” said Kramer. “The vibrancy of the performing arts in the Greater Milwaukee area has come in large measure through UPAF and the generosity of its donors. Milwaukee’s arts scene has served as a source of entertainment and innovative programming that far belies the size of this market and has also served as a platform for important community conversations.”

The kickoff event featured performances by the Florentine Opera, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and concluded with a candle-lit singing of “Happy Birthday” with a cake provided by the culinary team at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Also in attendance at the event was longtime arts supporter, philanthropist and retired U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, who made a major gift to UPAF through Herb Kohl Philanthropies in support of the 2017 campaign. The $50,000 donation makes Herb KohlPhilanthropies the presenting sponsor of the 50th anniversary campaign.


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