United Performing Arts Fund to Allocate a Record $9,245,000

United Performing Arts Fund to Allocate a Record $9,245,000

Funds Support 15 Milwaukee Area Performing Arts Groups

MILWAUKEE (Sept. 27, 2016) – The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) today announced it will allocate the most money in its 49-year history –$9,245,000 – for the 2016-17 Season. UPAF’s 15 Member Groups will receive a total of $9,106,018, of which the six UPAF Cornerstones will receive $7,678,090, or about 85 percent of the Member Group allocation.  The remaining funds will support smaller performing arts groups through UPAF’s Affiliate Program.

The record-setting 2016 UPAF Campaign was co-chaired by Paul Eberle, chief executive of Husch Blackwell (formerly Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.), Paul Purcell, chairman of Baird; and Peggy Williams-Smith, senior vice president, SafeHouse Restaurants, a division of the Marcus Corporation.


“For almost half a century, UPAF has raised much-needed dollars to support the best in music, dance and theater in Southeastern Wisconsin,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president and CEO. “With the generous and ongoing support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, we ensure that our Member Groups have the resources to deliver entertainment excellence, economic vitality and arts education programming.”


Several factors contributed to the success of the 2016 Campaign, according to Tillisch, including:

  • Recruitment 22 new Workplace Giving Campaigns and increasing average participation of supporters that come from the workplace.  An average of 31 percent of UPAF donors donate to UPAF through employee campaigns.
  • Growing the number of leadership donors, specifically those that increased their gifts by at least 10 percent.  Of those donors giving a minimum of $1,000, five hundred and forty two stepped up their giving.
  • Expanding UPAF’s geographic footprint by recruiting more donors that live in Waukesha County.  Currently, 13.1 percent of UPAF supporters reside on the Westside. .
  • Recruiting 455 UPAF Notable Women, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, up from 380 in 2015. These dollars go directly into the UPAF Arts Education Grant Program, which allocated $576,054.
  • Raising more than $57,000 in new donations through Next Generation UPAF, sponsored by We Energies Foundation.  Next Generation UPAF targets emerging leaders, a critical audience for UPAF’s current and future growth.
  • Increasing sponsorships for UPAF Ride for the Arts, sponsored by Miller Lite.  Almost $45,000 was secured in new money for the 2016 Ride, its 35th



UPAF allocation is determined by an independent committee representing a cross-section of for-profit and nonprofit organizations: Northwestern Mutual, Johnson Controls, We Energies, Baird, PNC Bank, Milwaukee Public Museum and the Ashton Group.

The UPAF Allocation Committee makes decisions based on a formula that was revised in 2013 to ensure transparency and objectivity while maintaining prudent stewardship of donor dollars.


Allocation consists of seven variables:

  1. Cornerstone Support: Guaranteed percentages exclusively reserved for the UPAF Cornerstone Groups.
  2. Sustaining Support: Guaranteed percentages reserved for all 15 Member Groups.
  3. Organizational and Financial Management: Measured through the beta-tested organizational performances scorecard.
  4. Campaign Support: Member Groups earn this through their active participation in the UPAF Campaign. (Groups receiving a smaller allocation in 2016 versus 2015 are mostly attributable to this variable.)
  5. Arts Education: Dollars raised through UPAF Notable Women, plus other restricted funds earmarked for arts education.
  6. Discretionary: Built into the formula is the ability to “set aside” 4% of formula dollars that are distributed at the UPAF Board’s discretion.
  7. Affiliate Program: Funds are directed through an annual grant program for which smaller performing arts organizations may apply.

UPAF Member Group 2016 Allocations:

UPAF Cornerstone Groups 2016 Allocation
First Stage Theater $966,019
Florentine Opera Company $895,632
Milwaukee Ballet $964,363
Milwaukee Repertory Theater $1,713,476
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra $2,550,369
Skylight Music Theatre* $588,232
Total UPAF Cornerstones $7,678,090

Skylight Music Theatre received an additional $75,000 from UPAF reserves to fund part of the Broadway Theatre Center’s HVAC system repairs.







UPAF Member Groups 2016 Allocation
Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee $66,315
Danceworks $170,998
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre $172,307
Milwaukee Children’s Choir $78,526
Milwaukee Public Theatre $73,321
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra $433,073
Next Act Theatre $148,292
Present Music $147,079
Renaissance Theaterworks $138,016
Total UPAF Member Groups $1,427,928


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 2016 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.



United Performing Arts Fund

301 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 600, Milwaukee, WI  53203

Phone 414-273-UPAF (8723) Fax 414-273-0826




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