2021 UPAF Campaign Raises Over $10.1 million

September 28, 2020

The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) announced this evening at its Campaign Finale that the 2021 UPAF annual Campaign raised $10,148,461 in this critical year of need for performing arts organizations.

“Coming off of a year with an exceptionally large number of legacy gifts as well as in support of the performing arts during a time of total shutdown, we knew that we were setting an ambitious target,” said President & CEO Patrick Rath. “We are pleased to have surpassed our budget goal during this unprecedented time, with a fundraising total of $10.148M, providing critical support to UPAF Members and expanding greater support to more organizations through our Affiliate program that are valuable to the community.”

A total of $7,898,203 will be allocated to 40 performing arts organizations throughout Eastern Wisconsin. Of this total, $7,729,203, or 98%, is earmarked for UPAF’s 14 Members. The remainder, $169,500, or 2%, is distributed to 26 UPAF Affiliates for unrestricted use.

This record number of organizations receiving UPAF funding further underscores the importance of having a diverse and vibrant cultural eco-system to entertain and educate our community. Thanks to UPAF Bright Minds funding, UPAF’s Members will serve over 50,000 students in the 2021-22 school year, 78% of whom are economically disadvantaged. Of UPAF’s 26 Affiliates, 20% are BIPOC led and place particular focus on BIPOC programming.

At the Finale, awards were presented to recognize area companies and individuals for their support of UPAF and the performing arts. Recognized were:

  • The Mrs. Walter H. Stiemke Award: In honor of the late Paul Purcell, former Chairman and CEO of Baird for his extensive service to the performing arts sector throughout his lifetime
  • Robert W. Baird Outstanding Achievement Award in Workplace Giving: Baird for achieving exceptional success with 11% employee giving increase.
  • The Jack M. Birchhill Award, recognizing significant contributions in the promotion of UPAF and the performing arts: Vince Vitrano of TMJ4
  • Volunteer of the Year Award: Amelia Kegel of Wheel & Sprocket
  • UPAF Ride for the Arts Top Fundraiser Award, Maureen McCabe

The 2021 Community Campaign was co-chaired by Heather Dunn, Senior VP & Chief Financial Officer at West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, Steve Johnson, Regional President of BMO Private Bank and Greg Wesley, Senior VP of Strategic Alliances and Business Development at the Medical College of Wisconsin. 


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 Eastern Wisconsin. 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.


UPAF works in partnership with its 14 Members and numerous Affiliates to ensure that all people have the opportunity to be inspired each year through performances, arts education and community partnerships. UPAF Cornerstone Members include First Stage, Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Skylight Music Theatre Members include Bel Canto Chorus, Black Arts MKE, Danceworks, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), Next Act Theatre, Present Music and Renaissance Theaterworks.