“Donations are Called the ‘Thank You, 5.’ Why?”

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A Play in One Act by Jeff Drushal

Setting: Starbucks on a super pleasant, sunny afternoon. The CEO of Arts Ambassadors and a Supporter sit down at a café table over a couple of Lattes. 

SUPPORTER: I think everything you’re doing at Arts Ambassadors is excellent.

CEO: Cool.  Thanks for your support.

SUPPORTER: But I do have a question.

CEO: Let’s hear it.

SUPPORTER: Arts Ambassadors uses the phrase “Thank You, 5” as the name for the donation made to arts organizations.  Why is that?

CEO: Great question.  I’m glad you asked.  First off, let me give you a quick explanation of where the phrase comes from.  Before a performance of practically every genre of performing art I can think of, the backstage area is a place of controlled chaos.  Have you ever been backstage during this time?

SUPPORTER:  No.  I’ve only ever been in the audience.

CEO: Well, depending on the night and the situation, the activity backstage can lean more heavily toward chaos than control.  For instance, the energy backstage at opening night of a high-school production of “West Side Story” is going to feel considerably different than the 400th performance of a professional national tour of a Broadway show.  I have had the pleasure of being a participant in both of these scenarios, and one common denominator that they both shared was the Stage Manager announcing the remaining time until the performance was to begin.  If you had been backstage, you would have heard the Stage Manager say something along the lines of “Half-hour to places.”  Then, “Fifteen to places.”  “Five minutes.”  And finally, “Places.” 

SUPPORTER: Oh, like a countdown. 

CEO: Exactly.  Then, it is customary for those who hear those announcements to respond by saying, “Thank you” followed by a restatement of whatever call was just announced.

SUPPORTER:  So, if I heard the Stage Manager say, “Half-hour to places.” I would respond by saying, “Thank you, half-hour.”   

CEO: Exactly.

SUPPORTER:  So, it’s sort of the equivalent to saying “Copy that” or “Roger” if I were using walkie-talkies? 

CEO: Yes, but it goes a little deeper than that.  Responding to the Stage Manager in this way isn’t just a courtesy.  Yes, it is an acknowledgement that you have in fact received the message, but it is also a show of respect and gratitude to the individual who is tasked with controlling as much of the chaos as possible. 

SUPPORTER:   Oh, so you call the donation the “Thank You, 5” because it’s a tradition in the performing arts and because the donation is 5% of the commission. 

CEO: Yes, but once again, it goes a little deeper than that. 

SUPPORTER: Gosh, there are so many layers.

CEO: Just like life, there’s always more to the story. 

SUPPORTER: I’m all ears.

CEO: In my experience, the “Five-Minutes to Places” call is the most important.  Sure, “Places” is arguably the most exciting, but “Five-Minutes” is your last opportunity to prepare.  Your last opportunity to be sure you are wearing your costume correctly.  To make sure your hair and make-up are right.  And finally, to take a moment to make sure your frame of mind is where it needs to be in order to perform at your best.  For me, “Five-Minutes” is the moment you get to pull together all the preparation you’ve done to finally get to do whatever it is you’ve been preparing. 

SUPPORTER:  And you believe the 5% donation that Arts Ambassadors facilitates helps to pull together the preparation that the Arts organizations have already been doing. 

CEO: That is our hope.  Every Arts organization needs supporters like you to not only be an active consumer of their art, but also to find creative ways to help channel money into the organization so they can ‘do more.’ Art ain’t free.   

SUPPORTER:  Wow, I guess I never really thought about it like that.  I’m so thrilled to be involved with all this. 

CEO: We’re thrilled, too. Thanks for your support.

SUPPORTER:  Don’t you mean “Thank You, 5?”

CEO:  Well played.

And with that, the conversation ends with a high-five as the CEO and the Supporter head off in different directions to share the exciting work of Arts Ambassadors with other would-be supporters and Arts organization. 


Read more about what we do at Arts Ambassadors: https://artsambassadors.com/what-we-do/#mission

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