Members of the United Performing Arts Fund faced a loss of $38 million in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic.
Government money, donations and contributions help offset the losses, but UPAF President and CEO Patrick Rath tells WTMJ’s Vince Vitrano that they’re still “working through” the financial instability.
“Effectively that loss is something that we’ll continue to work through. And it’s probably going to take a few more years before we truly get back to a point of what we can call somewhat normal,” Rath said.
The shows are back and people are coming out to support, but attendance has yet to reach pre pandemic levels.
“People did start to come back and it was wonderful to see those audiences really filling the houses,” Rath said. “But what we’ve also seen is that it’s taken more than 3 seasons for that to even come back. We look back to October this past year at the start of our season, we still had 50 percent of our audience that were coming back and sometimes even less.”
On top of COVID-19 hampering the non-profit, inflation set the fund back even further increasing production cost about “200 percent.”
“Inflation is probably about 200% of our production cost increase for this upcoming season,” Rath said. “We’ve got over 1,200 artists that dedicate their careers to the performing arts in the Greater Milwaukee community.”
Art feeds the soul and Rath says it allows us to emotionally connect with one another; which he says is needed now more than ever.
“When you express your own self, your also learning from others and that builds empathy,” Rath said. “And right now more than anything, that kind of conversation; especially among our kids where they can further connect when they’ve been so distant for such a long time and really show what gives them joy…these are all things that create a great environment.”