Drew McManus, Editor-in-Chief

Arts Consulting

“I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired.”

Those were the first words out of an executive’s mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house. I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight.

So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals “aggressively embracing career change” but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why. In short, it doesn’t matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can’t keep your own clients out of the ground, and I’m fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I’ve done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

Technology

In addition to my consulting business, I’m also the CEO of UpStage Technologies but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I’m just a tech geek. I bring 25 years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower.

With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. In 2022, that expanded into UpStage CRM, a fully integrated ticketing CRM designed expressly for arts and culture organizations.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, founded an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.

Connect With Drew

Drew McManus, editor-in-chief

Article Archive

New (And Critical) Email Deliverability Changes For Gmail & Yahoo

Starting February 2024, tighter email regulations on Gmail and Yahoo could drastically impact your email based engagement efforts. Let’s break down the new requirements and guide you through ensuring your emails land in inboxes, not spam folders. The Change Any users in your database and mailing lists with addresses ending in @gmail.com or @yahoo.com require the following: SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) authentication: if you don’t already have…

How To Deactivate Chrome’s New Annoying Discarded Tab Ring Treatment

If you use Chrome, you’ve likely seen the recent update adding a ring around the favicon in inactive open tabs. Unfortunately, this alteration renders the icon unreadable, defeating the purpose of having icons in tabs. This frustration escalates for Chrome users who habitually keep several dozen tabs open simultaneously. The good news is there’s a way to deactivate it and it’s a very straightforward process. Here’s how tabs look with the new…

Level Up Your Accessible Text Over Images Design Skills

Regular readers know that web accessibility is a topic we’ve covered frequently, especially when it comes to color contrast. One of the real challenges is mastering the art of maintaining color contrast for text that sits above an image. The text will shift across different parts of the image across different device types and sometimes, it feels impossible to find a balance. Fortunately,  SmashingMagazine.com recently published an article by Hannah Milan that…

ALERT: Google Domains Shutting Down And Selling To Squarespace

On June 15, 2023 Google unexpectedly announced they sold Google Domains to Squarespace. Not only did this come as a shock to the online provider community, but it comes as especially bad news for nonprofits. Must-Have Details Any domain names you or your organization have registered at Google will be transferred to Squarespace. The timeline has not been defined but information from Google indicates it will be as soon as Q3 2023…

The Calendly Replacement You’ve Been Looking For

If you are like me, online meeting schedulers are one of those tools you can’t imagine what life was like before you started using it. One of the big providers in that sector is Calendly, which offers a range of free to paid options. Casual users will likely get along with the free version just fine, but those needing features only available in paid plans will rapidly discover their tiered service levels…

Finally, A Free QR Code Generator That Doesn’t Require Registration And Exports SVG Format

While there are plenty of free online QR code generators, the vast majority have enough pain points to make them less of a useful tool and more of a pain in the neck. The majority of times I need to create a QR code for myself or my clients things just need to be simple: I need to create it fast and export in svg format. We can use those to create…

Microsoft PowerToys: The Hack You Didn’t Know You Wanted

If you’re a PC user, there’s a fabulous app that’s been around since the days of Windows 95 but you can easily download from the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 and 11. Unfortunately, Microsoft describes the app using some weapon’s grade jargon: “Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity.” On the surface, it sounds like it has a minimum…

If You Aren’t Selling Flex Subscriptions, You’re Missing Out

JCA Arts Marketing recently released a study measuring subscription sales at arts and culture organizations. While prefaced with a friendly “don’t panic” notification (Douglas Adams fans will enjoy that reference), they don’t sugarcoat their findings. While the data in this study may not be immediately encouraging, we want to emphasize that we should view subscription decline as an opportunity. There are many advantages to the subscription model, but there are also many…

Take Some Time To Explore AI Copy Generators

If you aren’t already aware, AI copy generators are becoming all the rage. While I won’t blame anyone for responding to that with a healthy 🙄, I can also say my recent experience with one of them has been entirely positive. I spent several days using copy.ai and compared to the others I tried, it’s the most intuitive and produced the most useful content. In a nutshell, their software uses machine learning…

An Excel Trick To Quickly Increment Dates For Each Row

You’ve probably found yourself in a position at some point or another where you needed to create a bunch or rows with dates that increased/decreased by a fixed amount for each row. You could spend your valuable time entering them manually or use this oldie but goodie click-and-drag trick to fill in those dates in seconds. Make sure your column is formatted for dates and enter the increment you need to use….

How To Share Specific Bookmarks And Bookmark Folders Between Users

Every browser provides a straightforward solution to exporting and importing bookmarks but what if you only want to share some or only those from specific folders? For Chrome users, that’s not a default feature but thankfully, there are a few extensions to fill that functionality void that are free and easy to use. Disclaimer: extensions may collect some personal information while also providing functionality so be sure to review the Privacy Practices…

We’ve Suspended ArtsHacker’s Twitter Account. Here Are The Reasons.

Considering the decision by Twitter’s new CEO to reduce the company’s product, engineering, legal, and trust and safety departments to levels that can no longer effectively prevent rampant abuse, we have decided to set ArtsHacker’s account to private. These actions, combined with the CEO using his personal account to spread misinformation, are enough to confirm a new business plan that relies on monetizing content policies that no longer align with the site’s…

A Smarter Way To Crumble Browser Cookies

Clearing browser cookies is just one of those things you need to do every now and then but clearing them out in bulk can be a serious hassle, such as losing all of your saved login info. 🤬 Fortunately, there’s been a multi-step trick to use for clearing cookies on a per-URL basis but after years of consistency, the most recent Google Chrome update has changed the process (for the better). This…

Using The Fitts’s Law To Become A Better Manager

This series is designed to help those working in the arts and culture sector apply user experience (UX) best practices to daily content management tasks. Using Jon Yablonski’s collection at LawsOfUX.com that gathers best practices designers consider when building user interfaces, today’s installment will focus on Fitts’s Law: the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target. Fitts’s Law Per lawsofux.com/fittss-law, here’s how the Fitt’s Law is…

Stop Using Carousels And Sliders (The Wrong Way)

Here at ArtsHacker, we’ve been warning arts admins against the practice of using sliders and carousels as a strategy to deliver mutually exclusive messages within a single space as far back as 2016. But just like a stubborn viral bug, the idea that carousels somehow function as a magical message delivery platform that delivers high conversion rates is difficult to shake. Fortunately, there’s a great article by front-end and User Experience (UX)…

The Cost Of Doing Business Online Is Going Up And It Has Nothing To Do With Inflation

While it may not seem like a big price increase, .com domain registrations and renewals are going to go up 6.9 percent. That’s likely just the beginning thanks to the sweetheart deal the company that owns a monopoly on .com registrations, Verisign, received from the Trump administration in the form of a no-bid deal that also removed decades long regulations that capped how much they could increase prices year to year. Moving…

Find Out Who’s Tuned In To Arts Organizations Today

The folks at Capacity Interactive (CI) recently published the latest installment of their Performing Arts Ticket Buyer Media Usage Study. The previous installment was released right before COVID-19 so as I’m sure you can imagine, a lot has changed. I’m still reviewing the content but a few items that jumped out at me from the Key Findings include: 96% of ticket buyers plan to come back to your venues after the pandemic….

Using The Zeigarnik Effect To Become A Better Manager

This series is designed to help those working in the arts and culture sector apply user experience (UX) best practices to daily content management tasks. Using Jon Yablonski’s collection at LawsOfUX.com that gathers best practices designers consider when building user interfaces, today’s installment will focus on the Zeigarnik Effect: when people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

The Time To Review Cybersecurity and Disruption Plans Is Now

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make sure you’re as prepared as you can for disruptions to digital platforms because of cyberattacks resulting from events unfolding in Ukraine. To a large degree, there’s only so much you can do and while the risk to arts and culture organizations being targeted deliberately is low, the systems and platforms they rely on are much higher priority targets. At the most basic…

Using Parkinson’s Law To Become A Better Manager

This series is designed to help those working in the arts and culture sector apply user experience (UX) best practices to daily content management tasks. Using Jon Yablonski’s collection at LawsOfUX.com that gathers best practices designers consider when building user interfaces, today’s installment will focus on Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law Per https://lawsofux.com/parkinsons-law/ here’s how Parkinson’s Law is defined: Any task will inflate until all of the available time is spent. Limit the time it takes to…

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