UPAF Applauds a Successful 2018 at Annual Meeting

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 19, 2018 – Just off another successful year year, the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) closed the curtain on its 2018 Campaign with its Annual Meeting yesterday, held at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. “The meeting provides us with an opportunity to review the year’s highlights and recognize and thank the many people and companies who support the performing arts with their time and dollars,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF’s president and CEO.

UPAF raised $12,073,795 throughout the 2018 Campaign. $9,045,000 was allocated in 2018 with 8,885,085 going to UPAF’s 14 Member Groups and $159,915 going to 15 smaller performing arts organizations through the Affiliate Program, sponsored by Briggs & Stratton.

A record $673,500 in grants have been distributed through UPAF Bright Minds, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, a grant program to fund arts education.  Eleven UPAF Member Groups will receive Bright Minds grant funding, which is up $73,500 over 2017’s total.

UPAF’s 2018 Campaign was co-chaired by Jim Borris, president and CEO of Zilber Ltd., Susan Martin, retired executive vice president of WEC Energy Group and Dave Vetta, Milwaukee region advisory board chair at First Business Bank.

The 2019 UPAF Campaign Co-Chairs were also introduced at the meeting. This trio consists of Jim Barry, president of The Barry of Company, Sandy Botcher, vice president of field experience at Northwestern Mutual and Tim Stewart, attorney and shareholder at DeWitt Ross & Stevens.

Rob Sanders, chair of the UPAF Board of Directors, with assistance from local actor Andrew Varela gave the 2018 UPAF Board report and joined in welcoming new members, Jim Borris of Zilber Ltd., Tami Garrison of MillerCoors, Juliet Kersten of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Lynn Minella of Johnson Controls and community volunteer Heather Ramirez.

Outgoing board member Steve Richman was also recognized for his dedicated service to UPAF.

The meeting included performances by: Bel Canto, Milwaukee Ballet, First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra.

First Stage and The Rep Recognized

Numerous awards were presented: The Milwaukee Repertory Theater received The Good Stewards Award, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Foundation, First Stage received the Bright Minds Award, for arts education, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, Next Act was awarded the UPAF Collaboration Award, Therese Burkhart earned the UPAF Notable Women Award, presented by BMO Harris Bank, Tim Stewart of DeWitt, Ross & Stevens was presented the Next Generation UPAF Award, presented by We Energies, and Ron Jahnke of Associated Bank received the UPAF Volunteer of the Year Award.

About UPAF

The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has been setting the stage since 1967 by providing critical investment in our region’s vibrant performing arts scene.  UPAF’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. In 2018 UPAF raised more than $12 million to support the area’s performing arts environment. UPAF proudly bears Charity Navigator’s highest distinction for nonprofits – a four-star rating – and is the No. 1 united arts fund in the country in terms of dollars raised.

As an umbrella organization, UPAF supports a breadth of performing arts groups that collectively offer something for everyone through its 14 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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