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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: Setting the Stage

Art is about understanding that you can have an impact even when you least expected it. And that is exactly what the United Performing Arts Foundation does.
Photo by Keifer Russell

What do people think when they see art?

Is it pieces that are seen in museums or drawn in school? Is it coloring on the sidewalk or even playing with bubbles? Is it experiencing a Broadway play, or simply just watching your favorite movie?

Well, in reality, art is all of that. Art is what makes the world around us so beautiful. It is taking the simplest thing around you, and understanding its complexity in a new way.

Art is about understanding that you can have an impact even when you least expected it. And that is exactly what the United Performing Arts Foundation does.

UPAF is a non-profit organization which works to support 14 various local arts groups in addition to providing funds for 55 other local organizations.

With every organization supported by UPAF, doors open for new art to be expressed. They work to inspire and challenge societal beliefs and standards through energizing and expressive art created by those of all backgrounds and ages.

The power behind each piece of art is not solely determined by the artist, instead it serves as a mode for interpretation, where the viewer can see the surface meaning – in addition to the deeper meaning.

Since 1967, UPAF has had one mission: Shaping a diverse, vibrant and sustainable cultural life for all. By being a community-based theater and arts program, UPAF uses donated funds to help support underprivileged communities by shaping a sustainable atmosphere where the community has a positive and creative outlet.

Not only does this organization stand out due to the variety of groups it supports, but it also is dedicated to helping underserved students through in-classroom activities and after-school programs.

In addition to supporting local performing arts groups that touch lives, UPAF holds educational programs for 50,640 children while increasing access to essential platforms for expression and understanding.

The performing arts can improve children’s academic performance, life skills and job readiness as well as foster inspiration, hope and connection.

Since this organization supports multiple groups, it ensures that there is always a diverse schedule of events planned. From the Milwaukee Ballet performing the fairytale classic, “Cinderella,” to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater doing musical renditions in “Piano Men 2” to First Stage’s production of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical,” the foundation plans it all.

Looking at all of these titles from an outside perspective, it can be difficult to see how all of these various productions fit together into one organization, but UPAF does not determine the groups it works with based on their content, rather it is based on the passions they have.

UPAF is more than just a place for children to experience art. It is a way for children to grow. According to the UPAF website, violinist Zindzi Frederick first began her musical career in first grade. Soon after, she joined Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, an affiliate of UPAF, where she spent time learning the violin and steelpan.

Now, Frederick is a recent high school graduate with no plans to end her musical journey soon.

Frederick said she credits the space offered by MYAC for allowing programming expansion and more opportunities for community children to get involved in the arts. She emphasizes that arts education is “important to holistic well-being,” and provides an opportunity to develop skills like critical thinking and communicating with others.

The arts play a major role in growing a community, especially as it relates to providing a larger understanding of social groups and cultures. Through the use of public murals, artists are able to create a visual representation of their emotions, while also providing a way for others to understand the events going on in the world.

One of the organizations UPAF supports is Danceworks. Danceworks has the vision to to be a source for arts education and community collaborations, and that is exactly what they did for Belle. Belle joined Danceworks through UPAF, and even had the opportunity to win awards because of this experience.

“My first experience through Danceworks was doing Matt Mattox dance through my school,” Belle said in the “Support our Future through UPAF!” video.

“I had such a lovely time with an amazing teacher. Me and my mom really commended Danceworks for being able to do that virtually, because it was on Google Meets. It was just an amazing time and I had so much fun doing it, I even won two awards. I am so glad I found Danceworks.”

Beyond murals and paintings, the arts provide a positive outlet for communities to express themselves and help to bring people together in times of hardship. The arts community brings people of all different backgrounds together through a single commonality — the power of thoughts with an artistic twist.

UPAF is always accepting donations to help grow their organization, and provide support to children like Zindzi. You can get help get involved and donate, by visiting the Get Involved UPAF website.

Because art isn’t just about what you see on a canvas, it is what you see in the world.

This story was written by Lauren Puthoff and Sophie Goldstein. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Lauren Puthoff
Lauren Puthoff, Arts & Entertainment Reporter
Lauren is an Arts & Entertainment Reporter at the Wire. She is a sophomore from Bettendorf, IA studying construction engineering. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with her dog, listening to music, and trying new foods. This year Lauren is looking forward to meeting new people and reporting on events around campus.
Sophie Goldstein
Sophie Goldstein, Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sophie Goldstein is a sophomore from Glenview, Illinois studying journalism and is the Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys spending time with friends, watching reality television and playing with her dog. She is excited to begin her journey at the Wire, while exploring the stories everyone has to share at Marquette.
Keifer Russell
Keifer Russell, Staff Photographer
Keifer Russell is a junior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin studying digital media and public relations and is a Staff Photographer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire he enjoys rock climbing, photography (figures), as well as finding and listening to new music. He is very excited to further refine his photographic content over the next year

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