United Performing Arts Fund Announces Increase in Arts Education Grants

Donor support for much-needed arts education continues to rise

MILWAUKEE (Oct. 12, 2015) – The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has announced the outcome of its 2015 Arts Education Grant Program. Each of UPAF’s 15 Member Groups will be receiving a grant this year, totaling $492,500, a 31 percent increase over 2014. This significant increase can be attributed to strengthened community efforts to improve access to arts education, as well as UPAF’s efforts to raise funds specifically for arts education by promoting membership in its affinity group, UPAF Notable Women, sponsored by BMO Harris.

UPAF Notable Women is an affinity program dedicated to supporting arts education and helping our next generation reach its full potential. Membership in UPAF Notable Women increased by 36 percent in 2015 to 380 members, directly donating $380,000 toward arts education.

“The education dollars that come from UPAF are ‘instrumental’ in helping us provide the vital resources we need to make the Milwaukee Youth Symphony (MYSO) and its training programs accessible to 1,000 musicians ages 8-18 that includes as many as 215 schools, 60 communities and counties throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois,” said Linda Edelstein, MYSO’s executive director.

According to Deanna Tillisch, president and CEO of UPAF, “The research is clear: arts education and performing arts exposure helps increase students’ engagement in the classroom. Exposing young people to the arts improves their ability to manage and understand their actions, and strengthens their confidence and attitudes overall. UPAF is proud to be a part of a community and continues to increase its support of arts education year after year.”

To receive a grant, each UPAF Member Group is required to submit an online application outlining a specific program within their organization focused on arts education. Each grant application was evaluated by a panel of individuals with an expertise in arts education and research. Their assessment emphasized the impact and measurable value of the programs.



Grant amounts awarded to UPAF Member Groups for 2015-16

UPAF Member Group Funded Program 2015 Grant


First Stage Theatre Academy $80,000
Milwaukee Repertory Theater Artistic Internship Program $70,000
MSO Arts in Community Education (ACE) $65,000
Milwaukee Ballet Releve $50,000
MYSO Community Partnership Program $50,000
Skylight Music Theatre Enlighten: Partner School Initiative $40,000
Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom & Tap $35,000
Florentine Opera Company Opera in the Schools $28,000
Milwaukee Children’s Choir Harmony Program $19,000
Next Act Theatre Next Actors $15,000
Milwaukee Public Theatre Cultivating Community Through the Arts $13,000
Present Music Creation Project $11,000
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Young Playwrights Festival $10,000
Renaissance Theaterworks Emmett Till Project $5,500
Bel Canto Chorus Boys Choir $1,000


About UPAF
United Performing Arts Fund’s mission is to secure community resources, promote the performing arts as a regional asset and improve the quality of life through responsible investment in and financial support of the performing arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. Our vision is to shape a diverse, vibrant and sustainable cultural life for all. In 2015 UPAF’s Annual Campaign raised more than $12 million to support the area’s vibrant performing arts environment. UPAF proudly bears Charity Navigator’s highest distinction for nonprofits – a four-star rating.

As an umbrella organization, UPAF supports a breadth of performing arts groups that collectively offer something for everyone through its 15 Member Groups and numerous Affiliates. More than one million people are touched each year through performances, educational outreach, special events and community partnerships.

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