UPAF Applauds Record-Breaking 50th Anniversary Year at Annual Meeting

UPAF Applauds Record-Breaking 50th Anniversary Year

Organization welcomes 2018 Campaign Co-Chairs

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 12, 2017 – Just off a milestone 50th Anniversary, the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) closed the curtain on its 2017 Campaign with its Annual Meeting today, held at the Broadway Theatre Center. UPAF’s 50th Anniversary Campaign raised a record-breaking $12.32 million for UPAF’s Member Groups, Affiliates, arts education programming and community outreach programs.

“Today we celebrate this year’s landmark year and milestone fundraising total. The Annual Meeting also provides an opportunity to thank the many people, companies and foundations that support the performing arts with their time and dollars,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president & CEO.

The 2017 UPAF Campaign raised $12,320,160, a new record.  In the past five years alone, the UPAF Campaign has increased by over 20%, having set records each of the last five years.

A total of $600,000 in grants have been distributed through UPAF’s 2017 Bright Minds, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, a grant program to fund arts education.  Twelve UPAF Member Groups will receive Bright Minds grant funding, which is up $23,946 over 2016’s total.

The 2017 Campaign was chaired by 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 Wealth Management of U.S Bank.

The 2018 UPAF Campaign Co-Chairs were also introduced at the meeting. This trio consists of Jim Borris, president and CEO of Zilber Ltd., Susan Martin, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of WEC Energy Group and Dave Vetta, Milwaukee region advisory board chair at First Business Bank.

Rob Sanders, of Children’s Hospital, gave the 2017 UPAF Board report and joined in welcoming new members, Heather Dunn of West Bend Mutual Insurance and Marie O’Brien of Enterforce.

Outgoing board members Tina Chang of Syslogic, Kathleen Dohearty of Brannigan Communications, Susan Kreh of Johnson Controls, and Kevin Steiner of West Bend Mutual Insurance were also recognized for their dedicated service to UPAF.

The meeting included performances by: UPAF Affiliate Racine Symphony Orchestra, which provided pre-meeting music, UPAF Member Group Skylight Music Theatre’s, whose Eloise Field and Andrew Varela sang “Anything But You” from their production of Annie, accompanied by Ryan Cappleman and the Terry Smirl Trio which performed on behalf of UPAF Affiliate Present Music.

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, Danceworks was awarded the UPAF Collaboration Award, Patty Cadorin earned the UPAF Notable Women Award, presented by BMO Harris Bank, Isaac Roang was presented the Next Generation UPAF Award, presented by We Energies, and Reynolds Honold received the UPAF Fundraiser of the Year Award.

About UPAF

The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has been setting the stage for over 50 years 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. UPAF is proud to celebrate a half-century of making our community a better place to live, work and play.  In 2017 UPAF’s 50th Anniversary Campaign raised more than $12.3 million to support the area’s 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 14 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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