Sunday, December 28, 2003

You REALLY like us! 

The year is barreling to the end, and here are the results of our plea for support: 16 new members so far, two of them are Shiny Fire Truck supporters! We are at 25% of our goal with FOUR days left to go!

We had a very nice write-up by Sharon Yamato who has a column in the Rafu Shimpo (a local bilingual newspaper celebrating its 100th year in existence!) The article is about year-end giving, and Yamato cites us (an unsolicited promo!) as a local fledgling organization worthy of donations. While we blush at being included in such venerable company as the Manzanar Committee , Visual Communications, and Great Leap , we do promise to deliver content and thought-provoking exhibitions that have relevance to society and the cultural arts. We received 250 visitors to our web site on Christmas Day! We believe these visits were prompted by the article. If you come visit again, don?t forget to join!

I, for one, was moved by Yamato's article to whip out my checkbook and send each of the above organizations a donation.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Gone Public 

This blog has just gone public, with a touch of a button. A bit scary, but then again, how can we be supported by a public that can't find us? If you are tuning in just for a quick peek (as I do occasionally on the Blogger 'new blogs' page), go immediately to to understand what this blog is all about.

For those of you who tune in regularly (or semi-so), help me in welcoming another East coast member to the fold - Rol from Connecticut! Rol was one of the original founders of the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica (before he moved back East). We are planning to share insights on museum-founding (and funding) in the future.

Interesting story in the Los Angeles Times this weekend by Nick Turse regarding the new "cooperation" between the U.S. military industrial complex and the video game industry. Having lived through the "no war toys" era, it is mind-boggling to me to see how far in the other direction toys and games have gone in recent years. While it is the function of a museum to examine and explore its topics with a view to impartiality, it is sometimes difficult to keep from dropping one's jaw with incredulity at some of the games that make it to the marketplace. Of course people who feel that these games breed violence and should be banned outright, also need to look at the role of good parenting oversight as a factor.

The article states that since 1997, video games simulating combat have been "co-funded and co-developed" by the Department of Defense and the entertainment industry. Turse says that, ' With more and more "toys" that double as combat teaching tools, we are subjecting youth to a new and powerful form of propaganda. This is less a matter of simple military indoctrination than near immersion in a virtual world of war where armed conflict is not the last, but the first -- and indeed the only -- resort. The new military-entertainment complex's games may help to produce great battlefield decision makers, but they strike from debate the most crucial decisions young people can make in regard to the morality of a war -- choosing whether or not to fight and for what cause."

When I was in college, I remember the all-nighter Risk(r) games that would dominate certain dorms. It was surprising how many reasonably intelligent people I knew who were obsessed with attaining world domination -- not a diplomat among them. The same folks were also interested in games of Civil War strategy or sinking imaginary battleships. These were the war games of an era where you got your visuals of the casualties of war on the nightly news.

The question of whether war games or simulations encourage war-like behavior or not is a hot topic every year around holiday time. It is also the type of sociological impact of toys that exhibitions at LATDA will explore. Personally, I found these games as boring and tedious to follow (or play) as I find today's cutting-edge techno warfare games. Perhaps when today's youth is immersed in virtual warfare (as the dweebs of yore) they find experiencing the real thing unnecessary and unengaging (or too much work). I can't think of one of the Risk (r) fanatics I knew who actually became a member of the military industrial complex.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Operators are standing by... 

Day six of our mini fundraising drive. I haven't been able to keep a running commentary this week due to a digital injury which, hopefully, was corrected by minor surgery yesterday. It is very difficult to type whilst keeping one's left forefinger elevated, but I want to acknowledge those who have responded to our plea and become members this week. THANK YOU! and we appreciate your willingness to give support to an entity which, on the surface, does not purport to fix the many local, national and global inequities that other worthy organizations need funding for. There are still 18 days left to reach our goal of $4,000.00!

We hesitate to quantify our early results in cold hard cash. Looked at dispassionately, the actual figure looks anemic. But to spin this in the most positive light, we’ve reached about 13% of our goal! I promised you transparency...this is how fundraising works: little by little.

We realize that there are greater things out there than the founding of one little toy museum. We just hope to tap into a little of the latte and movie money set aside for pleasures of the body and soul. And we do hope that once we are up and running, our exhibits will provide quality food for thought… and action. We will explore issues such as the social impact of toy design and manufacturing, and the history of play in educational systems. We will balance our fun with insight.

On the reporting side, however, we are happy to announce that new memberships have come in from a wide range of supporters from coast to coast. Thank you to Karla, Steve and Jeanette in Los Angeles; Ann Marie from Northern California; and Louise from Massachusetts. Pledges are coming by mail from New Mexico and Oregon, and one is being hand-delivered from London on New Year's Eve!

On the business side of LATDA, we recently had a wonderful local find. We procured seven vintage board games (some delightfully obscure), a View-Master(tm) complete with a box of reels, and a large box of HO gauge railroad track.

The games look as if they were played, but were in remarkable condition, including the boxes. I remember one of the games, "Go For Broke(R)”, by sight, but don't recall ever playing it. The object of the game is the opposite of Monopoly(R) - the winner is the first player to spend a million dollars. I will have to check through the cards to see if one of the ways to do this is to endow a museum.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Fully funded 

Recently a new friend of LATDA was sharing the Museum with another friend who asked her if we had been funded yet or received any grants. This seems to be the first question on everyone’s mind; where is our money coming from? It is a prudent question for anyone to ask before deciding to commit any of his/her own hard-earned cash to anything. But let me tell you about founding a museum – there are many different ways to do it. I have worked at two with very different origins.

One was started by a very wealthy individual with a personal art collection. He had many wealthy friends who were happy to pool their business talents to help him get his museum up and running. He gave his friends and family positions of authority and searched for the right pool of museum-making talent along the way.

The other was started by a group of WWII veterans who felt they had an important story to share with the public. They didn’t have any museum background, but they had very strong beliefs in what they were doing. Their first fundraiser was a ‘casino night’ in an old warehouse. They were smart enough to invite a city official to their grass roots fundraiser who eventually helped them secure the lease of an abandoned building in downtown Los Angeles. They worked on a community level, spreading the word of what they were trying to do, assembling a collection in the process and eventually building a membership of 30,000, some who have never set foot in the building but support it because they believe in the mission statement.

Obviously LATDA does not fit the former profile. We more closely resemble the latter, although we do have museum experience. We also have big picture mentality, long-range vision, and a creative approach to problem solving. What we do not have are lots of wealthy friends. But we hope that we have enough good friends who believe in what we are doing enough to invest in this much-needed dream.

We are starting a fundraising drive this month. We need to show the IRS that we have public support in order to maintain our non-profit status. If you haven’t received an email from us and simply follow our blog, please consider supporting us by becoming a member. Let us know how much you love the idea of a toy museum like LATDA. We will keep you posted as to our progress this month via blog. Join us today!

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