CBS58: UPAF's pep rally kicks off 2024 community campaign for locals to support the arts

March 13, 2024

A pep rally in Downtown Milwaukee's Third Street Market Hall on Wednesday kicked off a community campaign to remind locals of the importance of supporting the arts.

"Every year we hold our community campaign, we raise funds from the community," said Katie Korek, the PR Manager of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

The nonprofit has helped countless artists since 1967. Including Salsabrosita's team captain and two-time World Salsa Champion Natalia Beans.

"I love talking to people through my body language," she said.

Beans began dancing at the age of six and she told CBS 58 News that it's a big part of her culture since her mother is from Guatemala and her father if African American. 

"It's very Afro-Latin culture what Salsa is, and I just, I never thought that I could identify myself like that, I always thought of myself as either too Black for the Hispanics or too Hispanic for the African Americans," Beans added.

She said that travel and competitions would not be possible without financial support.

"Being able to share my passion and not have to worry about those financial barriers is something that I know a lot of people don't have the opportunity to have, and it makes me want to work harder," she said.

For many years, Wisconsin has ranked low across the country when it comes to funding the arts. In fact, a national nonprofit said Wisconsin ranked dead last in 2023.

Korek said UPAF allocates money to more than 50 performing arts organizations in southeast Wisconsin a year (including theater, dancing, and music groups) --all thanks to generous donations.

"You don't have to go to Chicago, you don't have to go to New York, you don't have to go to other places," Korek emphasized.

Click here, if you wish to donate.

Full story and video can be viewed HERE.