By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jun 15, 2017 at 1:06 PM

This year, the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) celebrated its 50th anniversary, but as its 2017 campaign wrapped up last night, the organization wound up with something else to celebrate: a new fundraising record. 

During its campaign finale held Wednesday night at the Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, UPAF announced that it raised $12,235,106 over the past three months – a new record for UPAF as well as an increase of $2 million since 2012.

Last year, the organization raised $12.16 million during its campaign, short of UPAF's goal of $12.26 million but still a record amount at the time. For 2017's campaign – which began March 6 and ran until June 14 – UPAF didn't mark a specific number total as its goal, instead merely making its mission to break its fundraising record and set a new mark.

And, as announced Wednesday night, it did just that. 

"It is only appropriate that for our 50th anniversary, we achieve a new giving milestone," said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president and CEO, in a release. "Our community deserves a standing ovation for its dedication to and support of the performing arts. These dollars will not only ensure entertainment excellence delivered by our 15 Member Groups, but will also provide arts education programming for 100,000 children and make the arts more accessible to individuals and families in our city."

During the finale celebration, UPAF hosted performances from First Stage and the Milwaukee Ballet – both Cornerstone Groups in UPAF – as well as a special tribute to Milwaukee-born Hollywood legend Spencer Tracy, presented by local actor James Pickering.

The festivities also included UPAF announcing one-time special commitments to the Milwaukee Ballet and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, two Cornerstone Groups. The former received a commitment of $250,000 intended for its new facility expansion, while the MSO received a $500,000 commitment for its hopeful future purchase and move into the Warner Grand Theatre Downtown. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.