Milwaukee Business Journal: UPAF targets $10.5 million for restructured community campaign without co-chairs

Margaret Naczek | February 23, 2022

The United Performing Arts Fund has launched a restructured community campaign for 2022 with a $10.5 million fundraising goal.

Due to inclement weather, the organization celebrated the campaign launch virtually via Facebook on Feb. 22. It had originally planned its first in-person campaign launch since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic at the new Bradley Symphony Center.

Milwaukee actress and Milwaukee High School of the Arts graduate Rana Roman was the virtual emcee.

The event included a performance from UPAF partner organizations including Peter Thomas of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Xalaat African Drum and Dance for Life, Eloise Field of First Stage and Shawn Holmes of Skylight Music Theatre.

The program also featured comments from UPAF president and CEO Patrick Rath and UPAF board chair Tim Mattke.

UPAF restructured its community campaign to provide an annual fundraising goal and one specific to the campaign. The organization is dividing its fundraising season into five acts with the community campaign being the third act of the season.

Rath said UPAF has a budgeted goal of $10.15 million, where it ended last year, with a target goal of $10.5 million. Specifically, the organization has a goal to raise $9 million at the end of its third fundraising act, the community campaign.

With the restructuring of the campaign, UPAF moved away from a campaign co-chair format. Instead, Mattke and the board of directors lead the fundraising strategy.

Fundraising goes to unrestricted operating support of the UPAF members and affiliate organizations.

UPAF supports 14 member groups of First Stage, Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, 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.

It will also support UPAF's community impact programs including Bright Minds, which delivers arts education to students, UPAF Connect, which delivers arts programming to marginalized communities, and Kasey's Fund, which creates more accessibility to the arts.

Rath said UPAF has seen in the last year a doubling of its access points to experience the arts, especially for the area's youth. Typically, he said, about 80,000 youth in the community will have an arts experience from a UPAF member organization. Last year, that number grew to 162,000.

This year UPAF also has a goal to build up two of its new programs, Chorus Line and Arts Days. Chorus Line is the new way in which UPAF builds and engages its volunteer base, which has over 300 individuals.

"This year, we’re doing more than ever to give them not only tools, but to extend the reach to be as welcoming as possible for those who wish to give to the arts. Really anybody can give. That’s the whole premise with the Chorus Line, creating those opportunities for people to give in the way that they wish to," Rath said.

Arts Days is what Rath described as a "very easy turnkey solution for our area business partners so that they can extend a way to give for their employees and to be part of the culture of what’s happening with the arts community."

UPAF will take a traditional workplace campaign that usually extends one or two weeks and shorten it to just a day or two day duration for small or medium-sized businesses.

"With that, they’re able to really have some great staff development opportunities and connections that happen especially as people are coming back to the office and are looking for ways to really connect and build that culture but also to do something good for the community," Rath said.