United Performing Arts Fund to Allocate $8,440,613 to Member Groups

UPAF | September 29, 2020

MILWAUKEE – The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) today announced it will allocate $8,440,613 to its 14 Member Groups. A total of $7,170,591 or about 85% of the allocation, will be distributed to the six UPAF Cornerstones.

Upon the close of its fiscal year on Aug. 31, total dollars raised by UPAF was $11,662,693. “While the 2020 Campaign looked drastically different than past Campaigns, it underscored just how important the performing arts are to the Greater Milwaukee Area,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president and CEO. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, we are able to provide much needed support at an unexpected level. These dollars allow Member Groups to continue enriching lives through their work.”

The $8.44 allocation included $720K directed specifically to arts accessibility through the one-time initiative, Kasey’s Fund. “Arts accessibility has been a priority throughout my tenure, so it is heartwarming to see donors open their wallets a little wider to support that passion,” said Tillisch. “I look forward to seeing the impact of Kasey’s Fund on individuals and families who will have the opportunity to  experience the magic of music, dance and theatre.”

In addition to Kasey’s Fund, over $632K was designated to 10 Member Groups through UPAF Bright Minds, presented by BMO Harris Bank, to fund arts education initiatives. Ten Member Groups received $189,500 through UPAF Connect, presented by Northwestern Mutual, which brings the performing arts to new audiences through partnerships with 26 local nonprofits.

The 2020 Campaign was co-chaired by Tami Garrison, community affairs director at MolsonCoors, Justin Mortara, principal at the Mortara Group and Rolando Rodriguez, president, chairman & CEO of Marcus Theatres.

UPAF Allocation by the Numbers

Member Group

Allocation Total

Dollars Received through UPAF Bright Minds

Dollars Received through Kasey’s Fund

First Stage




Florentine Opera




Milwaukee Ballet




Milwaukee Rep




Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra




Skylight Music Theatre




Bel Canto




Black Arts MKE








Milwaukee Chamber Theatre




Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra




Next Act




Present Music




Renaissance Theaterworks









UPAF allocation is determined by an independent committee representing a cross-section of organizations: Northwestern Mutual, We Energies, MillerCoors, Ol d National Bank and PNC Bank, in addition to community volunteers.

The UPAF Allocation Committee makes decisions based on a formula that ensures transparency and objectivity while maintaining prudent stewardship of donor dollars. Allocation consists of six variables:

  1. Continuing Support: Guaranteed percentages for all 14 Member Groups.
  2. Financial Scorecard: Evaluates financial management based on nine ratios.
  3. Campaign Support: Member Groups earn dollars through active participation in the UPAF Campaign.
  4. Community Program Support: Dollars raised earmarked for UPAF Bright Minds, UPAF Connect and Kasey’s Fund.
  5. Discretionary Fund: Built into the formula is the ability to “set aside” 4% of allocable dollars that are distributed at the UPAF Board’s discretion.
  6. Affiliate Program: Funds directed through an annual grant program for which smaller performing arts organizations may apply.

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.