Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: United Performing Arts Fund raises nearly $11.7 million, better than expected in pandemic year
The United Performing Arts Fund raised $11,662,693 during its 2020 campaign, it announced Monday during its campaign finale at the Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield.
That's a drop of 1.9% when compared to the 2019 total, a better outcome than the 8.5% shortfall that UPAF projected during this pandemic year.
That total includes $11,358,693 raised through fundraising and $304,000 in grant revenue.
"While it has been the hardest campaign, it has also been one of the most rewarding," said outgoing president and CEO Deanna Tillisch in a related press release.
Among the many adjustments UPAF made in 2020 was converting its annual Ride for the Arts to a virtual event with participants riding, walking or running from anywhere, rather than bicycling en masse.
UPAF's announcement is a positive development in a year of difficulties for Milwaukee's performing arts groups, which halted live performances as the pandemic took hold in March. They're planning a mixture of online and live shows for 2020-'21.
A Wisconsin Policy Forum report published in August said the arts and culture sector in Wisconsin is facing an "existential threat" from the COVID-19 pandemic. It estimates that 33.9% of people employed in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector in this state filed initial claims for unemployment between March 15 and July 5.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tony Evers has announced a $5 million grant program to help Wisconsin cultural groups hurt by the pandemic.
Tillisch is stepping down from her UPAF post on Sept. 30. The 2020 total includes $720,000 raised for Kasey's Fund, a one-time initiative to support arts accessibility, named after Tillisch's daughter Kasey, who was born with a chromosomal deletion that makes her unable to walk, talk, read or write, but who is an enthusiastic music lover. That's well beyond the $250,000 goal UPAF initially set for Kasey's Fund.
Tillisch thanked her 2020 campaign co-chairs: Tami Garrison, community affairs director at Molson Coors; Justin Mortara, principal at the Mortara Group; and Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and CEO of Marcus Theatres.
UPAF raises operating funds for 14 performing arts organizations such as the Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and First Stage. It also provides one-time grants to arts organizations.
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