Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Features
United Performing Arts Fund
by Jennifer Tomazic


MILWAUKEE -- The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has been making Milwaukee great since 1967 by raising money for 15 member organizations.

The groups range from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra to First Stage, a professional theater that incorporates children into the productions.

UPAF has raised $110 million dollars and Board Member Chuck Harvey sees the benefit the arts brings to the community.

"Art nourishes the soul, in so many respects," said Harvey.

And he says it brings together different communities.

"People leave a show, energized, some maybe more creative, some maybe have the energy to deal with a situation, some just have a great time," said Harvey.

The arts also gives kids, like those working with First Stage, self confidence.

"Theater teaches you to come out of your shell. It teaches you about your voice and to get across what you want to get across," said Jackson Evans, an adult actor with First Stage.

"I have really gained a lot of life skills from stage skills and theater. Like me talking to you right now-I wouldn't be as good as I am," said child actor Thomas Kindler.

UPAF funds help First Stage hire great actors and put on productions that are first class.

"I thought it was just going to be another community theater, but it's not," said Thomas. "I was a little deceived when I came to see the show-it is very, very professional."

"We are so thankful for what they (UPAF) allow us to do," said First Stage Director Jeff Frank. "The fact that we can impact the community and the lives of young people as much as we can through their support."

When theater patrons leave the Marcus Center, oftentimes they end up across the street at The Rumpus Room.

"Some people go to the theater and then a nice restaurant," said owner Joe Bartolotta.

He says he sees more business when it's theater season. In fact, a recent study showed that the arts has a $240 million dollar impact on downtown businesses.

Joe's way of saying thanks is giving back to UPAF.

"A thriving arts community will lead to a thriving community in general," said Bartolotta. "We are blessed and fortunate we have so many people committed to the arts."

For more information on UPAF, log onto http://www.upaf.org.