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.


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

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Get Rid Of These Three Common Design And Content Mistakes Once And For All

It isn’t as though arts managers have loads of time to stay current on the latest trends and best practices for web design and user experience. Fortunately, that’s what you have ArtsHacker for and today’s post will cover three common mistakes and how to fix them. If your Smartphone could offer commentary on the sites you visit, one of the more common phrases you would hear is “What the @#!* is a…


Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A (Font) Match

For many performing arts orgs, January means you’re knee deep into next season’s design stage and for those of you who do your own design work, finding complementary font combos can become an overwhelming task. Fortunately, we have some terrific resources you can use to keep you on track. A Septet of Typography Combo Tools The design resource center, Creative Market, published an article that lists five different sites dedicated to helping you…

2016 resolutions

10 Resolutions Every Arts Manager Should Make For Better Data Driven Decisions In 2016

2016 is the year for ridding your institution of as much HiPPO decision making as possible. Even if you aren’t familiar with the acronym, HiPPO stands for Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, we’ve all wasted too much time during meetings and made decisions that didn’t produce the best potential return on investment due to a lack of data. Granted, in the absence of hard data, it’s natural to rely on experience but the…

MailChimp New Resize RSS feed images to fit template option

If You Use MailChimp RSS Campaigns You’re Going To Want This Information

Recently, email marketing provider MailChimp added a new option to their RSS campaigns that aims to solve a long (long) standing shortcoming in their service by way of how they handle images inside the RSS feed. In particular, Mailchimp wasn’t resizing source images so they fit inside the width of the email message template across all email clients and devices (desktop, tablet, and Smartphone). For several years, MailChimp maintained a disclaimer at…

#1 ranked NAMPC 2015 session

It’s Official: Click Click Done Was The #1 RANKED SESSION Among #NAMPC 2015 Attendees!

We are so pleased to learn that the Click.Click.Done. Developing Your Google Analytics Skills session at the 2015 National Arts Marketing Project Conference was ranked as the #1 session among session attendees! The session was developed by Arts Hacker Editor-in-Chief Drew McManus along with contributors Ceci Dadisman and Marc van Bree and designed to be a very hands-on type of experience where attendees put lessons into motion in real time. National Arts Marketing Project…

pronunciation guide

Did You Know Facebook Can Tell People How To Pronounce Your Name?

Although there are no shortages of annoyances whenever Facebook rolls out new features, every now and then they offer up a sincere gem and in case you haven’t seen it yet, the latest addition in that collection currently in testing is the name pronunciation guide. As of now, the pronunciation function seems to be limited to individual profiles and setting it up only takes a few moments. To get started, you’ll need…

Arts Hacker Year in Review 2015

Today Marks Arts Hacker’s One Year Anniversary!

Hard to believe it’s been a full year since ArtsHacker’s launch but today marks the one-year mark since the inaugural post on December 7, 2014. And to celebrate, we took our own advice and put together a special Year In Review page that chronicles our highlights, provides all sorts of stats, and takes a look back at risk, reward, and growth. In the end, ArtsHacker is only worth the value you assign…


What We’re Thankful For As Arts Administrators

In a field where it can become all too easy to feel the pressures of the day to day grind, we sometimes forget to take a step back and acknowledge the things we’re grateful for. To that end, I asked our ArtsHackers to share a few of the things they are grateful for as arts administrators during this Thanksgiving season. I hope this lets you learn a little bit more about who we are and our respective outlooks on the field.[

Spoiler: there’s a good section in the article that draws on lessons from the medical field.

Become An Arts Admin Jedi By Mastering The Art Of Getting Things Done @Americans4Arts #ARTSBlog

If you haven’t been following it already, Americans for the Arts blog salon on arts marketing started up last week and my contribution went up on Oct 24, 2015. Regular ArtsHacker readers will notice the numerous connections with this site’s mission and that’s no mistake; titled Mastering the Art of Getting Things Done, the post focuses on the need for arts marketers, and I’d go so far as to say arts managers in…

How To Make Images Behave Inside Mailchimp RSS Campaign Templates

How To Make Images Behave Inside Mailchimp RSS Campaign Templates

NOTE: be sure to check out this article published after this one with updated information and a new option Mailchimp provides to help mitigate this problem. MailChimp (MC) is one of the most popular email marketing providers for a host of good reasons but even the best of providers have a few minor annoyances and in MC’s case, it’s the inability to dynamically resize images via an RSS campaign so they fit inside both…

Creating An Effective Non-Responder Strategy For MailChimp

Creating An Effective Non-Responder Strategy For MailChimp

One of the most frustrating and expensive problems arts managers deal with is email subscriber inactivity and no matter how hard you work to avoid it, just as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, your email lists will have inactive users, commonly referred to as non-responders. In the most extreme situations, arts managers hold onto these addresses due to a misplaced belief that the more addresses in your lists,…

Begin Chronicling Your Season Using A Year-In-Review Microsite

Begin Chronicling Your Season Using A Year-In-Review Microsite

Although it’s fairly common practice for the commercial sector, arts orgs haven’t really caught on to the Year-In-Review (YiR) microsite trend yet but they’re doing so at their own peril. In a nutshell, think of YiR microsites like an interactive infographic designed to deliver institutional stats in a timeline based layout, and even though we’re using the term microsite, they can just as easily be incorporated as a static page within your…

Step Up From Collaborating To Co-Authoring In MS Word 2016

It took them long enough but the folks in Redmond have finally made real-time co-author editing part of Microsoft Word. If you’re an Office 365 user and haven’t upgraded to Office 2016, you should hop on that ASAP and if you’re not a subscription user, then this feature alone is worth the cost of an Office 2016 upgrade. If you’re a Google doc user, you’ve enjoyed the benefits of real-time collaborative document…

There’s More Than One Way To Hack The Arts

ArtsHacker currently includes a mix of original articles and aggregated posts (content that points out a useful resource elsewhere but ties it into arts management) but sometimes we run across items that would be useful to arts managers but only need a sentence or two description; and although a blog post that long is just silly, it’s an ideal length for Facebook and Twitter. To that end, we started posting these micro-ArtsHacks…

Are You Experiencing A WordPress Menu Bug Inside Chrome? If So, Here’s The Fix

If you’re running the most recent version of Google’s Chrome browser and you’re a WordPress user, you may be noticing some unusual behavior vis-a-vis your admin menus in that they shift around, disappear, and are otherwise difficult to pin down when hovering over them. Good news is that it isn’t just you or someone playing a prank, it’s a legitimate bug. This is the result of a conflict between Chrome and the…

Meet The ArtsHackers At #NAMPC 2015

Meet The ArtsHackers At #NAMPC 2015

ArtsHacker has always been about the nuts-and-bolts of being an effective arts administrator and I’m very happy to say that I’ll be leading a session at the 2015 National Arts Marketing Project Conference (#NAMPC) in Salt Lake City, November 6-9 alongside fellow ArtsHacker Ceci Dadisnman and marketing technologist and digital strategist, Marc van Bree. We designed the Energizing Technology track session, Click. Click. Done. developing your google analytics skills, so users of all skill…

security practices

How To Manage Online Security Like A Pro (spoiler: it’s easier than you think)

Online security is a big deal. Check that, it’s a really big deal and far too often, arts orgs and their managers don’t take as much time as they should to protect themselves and their institution. Lifehacker.com published a fascinating post by Whitson Gordon on 7/25/2015 that examines the results from some recent research by Google into security practices employed by security experts and non-security professionals. Google asked respondents about their habits…