The performing arts sector is already facing a deficit for next year

MILWAUKEE—The performing arts sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, and local arts leaders said it continues to struggle in the current economic climate.


What do you want to know

  • Members of the United Performing Arts Fund generate over $80 million in economic revenue
  • Last year, 160,000 young people in the Milwaukee area took advantage of UPAF’s free education program
  • This season, UPAF has operated with ticket sales between 20% and 50% below pre-pandemic levels

Patrick Rath, president and CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund, said among UPAF’s 14 members, more than $38 million has been lost over the past three seasons.

Since the reopening of performing arts in the Milwaukee area in the fall of 2021, Rath said the rollback has been slow.

“For the most part, we had about 50% capacity of our traditional capacity for our theaters, and it wasn’t really until May that we started to see people coming back,” Rath said.

Jonathan Edwards in MACBETH. First stage, 2022. Photo by Paul Ruffolo.

This loss of income is essential to fund UPAF’s youth education programme. Rath told us last year that 160,000 young people took advantage of his free programs.

Right now, Rath said the members will face a deficit for the next year, which will also be felt in the community. According to Rath, the economic impact of UPAF members is well over $80 million for the greater Milwaukee area.

“We know the arts are essential to our community, not only the joy it brings to so many people, but it means people are coming back to our downtown community, bringing vitality to it, using our restaurants , our bars, our hotels.”

Rath said the hope is that the public will soon take seats like the pre-pandemic days. Learn about upcoming performances and ways to donate here.

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