Saturday, May 16, 2009

Disney Hall Donor Wall and Temple Coin Toss Donation Boxes

Between acts of the L.A. Philharmonic's production of John Adams' / Peter Sellers' "Tree Flower" I was waiting around with friends on the mezzanine and noticed a huge wall of "sheets" of plastic (most likely) of which only a small number of them had the names of donors. I suggested that the Music Center philanthropy folks place a Sharpie pen and a "puske" (charity box) nearby with instructions for folks to make a donation of any amount and write their names on one of the panels when they have. It seemed silly not to encourage ticket holders (perhaps even those with season or series purchases) -- who were standing around with their hands in their pockets at intermission anyway -- to take out some spare change and contribute on the spot. The development staff even can wipe off the names in time for the next performance.

One sees donation boxes everywhere in Japan, at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, in sizes ranging from small shipping containers to tiny "doll houses". Mostly made of wood employing the finest of Japanese carpentry workmanship, they typically have a grill on the top made of rectangular square dowels situated in their diamond orientation (to allow for maximum openness and still provide some security from diving hands ... although, this is Japan so it's unlikely!). Below, there are two facing boards positioned slanting from the top down toward the middle section, forming a hole the length of the box. When coins are tossed, carnival game fashion, the coins make clattering then rolling sounds only to quietly thud into the black hole of the cache on the bottom.

They are not pervasive in the negative sense, rather, they are innocuous and, most important, productive.
This passive request for a donation provides an opportunity to exchange a few yen coins (or bills if one is careful in the toss) for a blessing, or at minimum, a chance to ring a copper bell by tugging on a rope. So, why not encourage folks attending a concert to toss a few coins in exchange for a well-tuned finale?

No matter what, Don't Forget to Ask for the Money!

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