By Hayley Crandall
United Performance Arts Fund’s (UPAF) annual “Ride for the Arts” is looking a bit different for its 40th anniversary.
The event, which is dedicated to raising money for UPAF, has historically been quite the spectacle.
Pulling in an average of 4,000 participants, the riders start at the lakefront by the Summerfest grounds. Some rides can last as long as 70 miles and it’s the only public event that allows pedestrians to go over the Hoan bridge. The entire thing closes with entertainment as well as food and drinks provided by various sponsors.
But this year it’s looking a bit different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest fundraising event for UPAF has gone digital. The lakefront starting line has been replaced with a Facebook Live kickoff and there’s a new focus on a variety of activities.
Subtitled “An Event for All,” anyone of any skill levels and ability are greatly encouraged to participate in any way they can – it isn’t only about bike riding this year.
“There’s a lot of flexibility with this,” said UPAF Public Relations and Digital Media Specialist Katie Korek. “We’re encouraging people to walk, to run, to ride, to roll, whatever they can do.”
There’s no pressure with tracking miles, according to Korek, but they do encourage people to mimic the miles they would have done in person.
The only requirement to join is a $40 registration fee, which gets participants a t-shirt and 25% off coupon for 2021’s ride. Prizes can even be won through donations or the newly added photo contest.
Other donations can also be made directly to UPAF or through registered teams.
The change in plans allowed them to play up the theme this year. The “An Event for All” concept took major inspiration from the organization’s 2020 campaign: “Stage for All,” which focuses on making sure everyone has a place to enjoy and participate in any kind of art form.
“We’re really focusing on inclusion of all people in the arts,” said Korek. “Really making sure that everyone has a place albeit physical disabilities, mental disabilities, or race. Really just promoting the arts as an inclusive thing.”
This year’s campaign theme was inspired by UPAF’s CEO Deanna Tillisch, who will be retiring after this year, and her dedication to making sure the arts are inclusive, Korek explained.
“She has really worked to bring it to UPAF throughout the years,” said Korek. “Especially through our outreach programs.”
Other fundraising events include a golf outing and workplace donations which includes traveling to companies with performers in order to raise donations. It gives people a chance to see what the money goes towards, according to Korek.
Money goes to 14 major Milwaukee art groups including organizations such as Milwaukee Ballet and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
“Ride for the Arts” kicks off Sunday, June 14 on Facebook Live at 9 a.m. It’ll feature speakers and performances as part of the celebration.