First Stage and MYSO Reveal 3.5 Million Dollars Awarded for Two Endowments for Advanced Theater and Music Training

These legacy gifts will have great impact on the two core tenants in the thriving youth-oriented Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

By: Feb. 16, 2024
First Stage and MYSO Reveal 3.5 Million Dollars Awarded for Two Endowments for Advanced Theater and Music Training
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In a joint announcement today, First Stage and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) have announced that Milwaukee philanthropist Anthony Petullo has made a donation to both organizations in the amount of $3.5 million dollars ($1.75 million designated to each organization to be made over four years) for the creation of two brand-new endowment funds:Anthony J. Petullo Endowment for Advanced Theater Students at First Stage and Anthony J. Petullo Leadership Fellows Endowment at Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. This unprecedented donation to each organization will have a significant impact for First Stage and MYSO to continue offering their nationally recognized training programs for young people and to grow these programs in the future. 

Asked why he wanted to create two such endowments, Tony Petullo shared: “As a passionate supporter of the arts, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of theater and music in shaping young minds and fostering creativity. Investing in the future of these talented individuals through advanced theater, music and leadership programs is not just a philanthropic gesture – it’s a commitment to nurturing artistic excellence and cultivating the next generation of leaders and storytellers.”

“Creating these endowments for First Stage and MYSO was inspired by my belief in their mission and their proven track record of empowering young people. Legacy gifts hold a unique significance – they transcend individual lifetimes, leaving a lasting impact that continues to enrich lives long after we’re gone. I urge fellow donors to consider the profound legacy they can leave through such gifts, ensuring that the arts thrive for generations to come.”

First Stage will utilize the Anthony J. Petullo Endowment for Advanced Theater to provide financial assistance to students who participate in First Stage’s advanced theater training programs. These programs include First Stage’s Young Company, School Year Intensives and other future initiatives. This transformative contribution allows First Stage to provide comprehensive training opportunities that not only hone artistic talents but also foster crucial life skills. Through these programs, participants will develop leadership qualities, enhance social skills and cultivate a deep sense of empathy and creativity. By investing in Milwaukee’s youth through theater education, First Stage aims to empower them to become influential leaders within their communities, equipped with the tools to inspire positive change and make meaningful contributions to society. This endowment donation represents a significant step forward in First Stage’s mission to nurture the next generation of dynamic and socially conscious leaders.

Managing Director Daniel Grambow shared why this gift is so important to First Stage: “We are thrilled to announce a transformative endowment gift that marks the beginning of a new era for our Academy programs. This generous contribution will enable us to unlock unprecedented opportunities for creative exploration and innovation, ensuring that First Stage becomes a place of endless possibilities for the next generation of theater professionals.

Tony’s legacy through this gift will not only support access to our nationally recognized theater training programs but elevate the work of our Young Company and programs to come! I personally am filled with gratitude to receive such a gift and equally filled with excitement for the next generation of First Stage artists.”

At Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Anthony J. Petullo Leadership Fellows Endowment will provide financial assistance to Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra advanced musicians in the orchestras, including Senior Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, advanced chamber music, jazz and steel pan studies, and other programs. The purpose of the Anthony J. Petullo Leadership Fellows program is to create and advance opportunities for the development of leadership skills with advanced MYSO musicians through a curriculum that includes musical and organizational leadership skills. Additionally, the program provides MYSO members the opportunity to engage in leadership training and gain hands-on experience in the music world. Petullo Leadership Fellows have the chance to assist in MYSO programs, collaborate with their peers on community projects, engage with mentors and participate in leadership workshops.

“We are deeply grateful to share this news of an extraordinary endowment gift from Anthony Petullo,” said Linda J. Edelstein, Chief Executive Officer of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra.

“The Anthony J. Petullo Leadership Fellows program will transform the lives of advanced Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra students through a curriculum that develops music and leadership skills. And it will transform our community by paving the way for generations of leaders. This is the beginning of a beautiful melody. Our students and our community thank Tony for composing it.”   

These legacy gifts will have great impact on the two core tenants in the thriving youth-oriented Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. As collaborative partners in a facility designed for state-of-the-art youth theater and music training, both organizations look forward to deepening their joint venture through these two new endowments.