Milwaukee Business Journal Highlights UPAF’s $12.26 Million Campaign Goal

Milwaukee Business Journal Highlights UPAF’s $12.26 Million Campaign Goal


The United Performing Arts Fund has set a 2016 campaign goal of $12.26 million, a 2.2 percent increase compared with last year’s goal.

Last year, UPAF raised a little more than the 2015 goal of $12 million, resulting in a record allocation of $9,175,000 in operating funds for performing arts organizations in the Milwaukee area. The united arts fund has been hitting new highs in fundraising and allocations in recent years.

UPAF provides a vital source of funding for performing arts in Milwaukee and, many say, is crucial to sustaining the diversity of arts in Milwaukee.

“After our record-breaking 2015 UPAF campaign, we are motivated to raise the bar even higher for 2016,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president and CEO. “The performing arts are invaluable on many levels; they enrich our souls, educate our children and promote true prosperity. The 15-week UPAF campaign is essential to ensuring we sustain these assets.”

UPAF announced the goal at its annual campaign launch celebration, held Tuesday at The Pfister Hotel in a spectacle sponsored by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The program leading up to the goal’s unveiling featured a tribute to lyricist Yip Harburg, who penned lyrics to the Oscar-winning “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” and other classic favorites, including “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” a song suitable for a fundraising effort. Harburg’s great grandson, Aaron Harburg, also appeared at the event to provide historical perspective to Harburg’s words.

This year’s campaign promises a little more star power than in the past. UPAF has previously unveiled commercials and promotional videos featuring celebrities Henry Winkler and Donnie Most, both of “Happy Days” fame, and former Milwaukee Bucks basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The organization will continue to seek celebrity endorsements with a focus on celebs with ties to Milwaukee. “Happy Days” was a 1970s television sitcom set in Milwaukee and some of the first screenings of the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” including “Over the Rainbow,” were in Oconomowoc and Kenosha.

The 2016 UPAF campaign is being led by co-chairs Paul Eberle, chief executive of law firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC; Paul Purcell, chairman of Robert W. Baird & Co.; and Peggy Williams-Smith, senior vice president of SafeHouse Restaurants, Marcus Hotels and Resorts.


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