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

Activate Search Tracking

Activate Search Tracking: Another Change To Google Analytics Anyone Can Do (and everyone should)

Knowing what visitors are searching for at your site is one of the most useful metrics you have to tweak content, adjust navigation architecture, and improve conversion but by default, Google Analytics (GA) does not track visitor searches. So even though you may notice the default menu item for Site Search via your Reporting admin panel, don’t be surprised if you pop in and see a metrics big goose egg staring back…

Chrome Inspect Element Device Emulator

Master Responsive Web Design With Chrome’s Device Emulator

One of the single most daunting problems arts orgs face when converting to responsive design is embracing the mobile first concept; meaning, you no longer envision website design from a desktop-only or desktop-first perspective. Instead, you need to begin with the mobile browser environment and work your out from there. Sure, that sounds great but who has a few dozen mobile devices laying around to see how your site looks and functions…

Stupid Manager Tricks: How To Recover A Deleted MS Word Document

We’ve all been there, the cursing, gnashing of teeth, and general unpleasantness involved with realizing you just lost a MS Word document you really, really need. It doesn’t matter if it was due to a power outage or a graceless self-inflicted productivity wound, the end result is the same. Fortunately, it probably isn’t gone for good and even though options to bring it back from the great digital beyond have been around…

Social Media Header Templates

Take Advantage Of These Photoshop Templates To Update Your Social Media Branding

A good Photoshop (PSD) template can save hours of time and frustration when designing branding elements for social media platforms and over the past year, you’ve probably noticed the trend toward larger, full width header images. These look terrific and since every major social media platform functions within a responsive website environment (where content is relocated across different browser widths) that means you can no longer be lazy and put together a…

Rub-A-Dub-Dub-Dub, Count All The Men In Your Tub

One item often overlooked when setting up a Google Analytics account is whether or not to include the www or non-www version of the URL as the preferred domain. Preceding the domain name in a URL, www (pronounced “dub-dub-dub”) can inadvertently turn into a thorn in your side by way of inaccurate metrics if you haven’t one version or the other for your preferred domain. Fortunately, this is super easy to put…

US Military Bands

Pop Quiz: Who Is The Largest Employer Of Full-Time Musicians In The U.S.?

Whether you’re home all day enjoying the holiday with family and friends or your organization is putting on an event today, try to take a few moments to remember the reason for the holiday. Furthermore, take a moment to remember that the single largest employer of full-time professional musicians is the United States Armed Forces. And that doesn’t even include the multitude of administrative and support personnel! Happy Memorial Day! The United States…

Structured Data 01

Do More For Event Search Results In 15 Minutes Than You Accomplished With Years Of SEO

SEO is dead, long live Structure Data! If you’re still hung up on fine tuning every possible element of SEO I have good news for you; you can stop. Google’s search algorithms are going to see past any trick and if you follow their prescribed methods for integrating micro data markup into your website’s code, you’ll accomplish far more than you ever could with old-school SEO tactics. And if you don’t have…


The Audience Development Podcast Gets To The Bottom Of ArtsHacker

Arts consultant and founder of Audience Development Specialists, Shoshana Fanizza, maintains a podcast focused on audience building and her most recent podcast was all about ArtsHacker. It was a great conversation and we’re grateful for the chance to talk about what we do. The final cut is an excellent resource for learning about what ArtsHacker.com all about, our great contributors, (not to mention how awesome they are for doing what they do inspired…

When To Clap & What To Wear: Two Remarkably Practical Guides You Can Use

When To Clap & What To Wear: Two Remarkably Practical Guides You Can Use

Chattanooga Symphony & Orchestra concertmaster Holly Mulcahy has been on a tear as of late by tackling two of the most difficult questions arts orgs (especially classical music groups) encounter on a regular basis: when to clap and what to wear. Mulcahy addresses each in separate posts at her blog, Neo Classical, and unlike the typical examination of these well-worn topics, she provides a wealth of useful insight geared far more toward…

Tip: make sure you analyze pages that contain any table based content or forms.

Is Your Website Ready For Google’s Big Algorithm Change?

Tomorrow, 4/21/2015, is the day Google will fully implement the latest major change in its search algorithm and if your site isn’t prepared, you can expect a world of hurt via your search rankings. Simply put, it’s all about meeting Google’s new mobile friendly thresholds; if your site is what Google considers mobile friendly it is more likely to rank it higher in search results. Additionally, Google also plans to contain more…

Activating Demographics

One Simple Change To Google Analytics Anyone Can Do (and everyone should)

Google Analytics (GA) is a remarkable resource but too many arts marketers aren’t able to leverage everything it has to offer. It’s not from a lack of trying or desire; in many cases, GA can simply seem overwhelming; fortunately, Google rolls out a seemingly endless stream of improvements and over the past year, many of those have been geared to one-click-simple changes; case in point, activating demographics and interest reports. Previously, this…

Mastering The Art Of Screencaps

Mastering The Art Of Screencaps

How many times have you endured the frustration of exchanging half a dozen email messages when one would have sufficed due to a lack of visual frame of reference for something like a specific element within a website or a piece of print material still in the design stages? Fortunately, one of the most useful skills you can develop to cut through the frustration and get the feedback you need is learning…

Punctuation Guide

Learn To Communicate Clearly With These Punctuation & Grammar Guides

In an age of twitter lingo, texting, and autospell it can become all too easy to let your grammar and punctuation chops get rusty; fortunately, we have a few guides you can keep handy that will help you stay sharp. The Punctuation Guide This enormously useful guide (h/t LifeHacker.com) is stupid simple to use, all you need to do is click on a punctuation mark and learn all about it alongside a…

This Handy Living Wage Calculator Drills Down To City Level Data

If you work in the field of arts administration, you’ve probably figured out that it isn’t exactly the ideal career if your primary goal in life is to secure a position at the top of the economic food chain. Having said that, and regardless of your position in the field, it’s still good to keep tabs on up to date wage data and the MIT Living Wage Calculator created by Amy Glasmeier,…

Brand Loyalty

Get To Know Your Millennials

There’s a fascinating infographic from badgeville.com published via their blog on 12/18/2013 in an article by Adena DeMonte that provides insight into what they define as info marketers and managers need to know about Millennials. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive infographic in that it doesn’t gloss over a few key points and instead, focuses on a broader data cross section. You would have to be operating under a rock to miss the growing…

Smart Objects 05

Take Mockups To The Next Level With Premium Templates And Smart Objects

In case you missed Ceci Dadisman’s 1/16/2015 ArtsHack on creating easy mockup images so as to help refine your communication efforts, make sure you give it a look. Think of this post as a pro-user companion piece in that we’re going to look at some mockup resources that provide beefed up options and customization as well as cover how to use Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop in order to take advantage of…


Get To Know Zapier: Your Ultimate Connectivity Swiss Army Knife

If you or your organization have ever attempted to connect or sync data between mutually exclusive apps and software, you likely know the heartache that is dealing with APIs, or application program interfaces, the language that allows one piece of software to communicate with another. Fortunately, there is a growing movement within the tech industry that has given birth to the app automation service provider. In this instance, when we use the…

World's Biggest Data Breaches

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Data Breaches

If you’re an arts administrator or board member, it can be all too easy to read about data breaches in mainstream media then let it fade into out-of-sight, out-of-mind and secretly hope that your organization never has to be listed in one of those stories. Nonetheless, hope isn’t legal tender in the land of responsibility so to help illustrate just how much of an issue data breaches have become, swing over to…

If You Aren't Filtering Out Your Visits In Google Analytics You’ll Regret It 2018

If You Aren’t Filtering Out Your Visits In Google Analytics, You’ll Regret It

One of the most fundamental enhancements you should make to your organization’s Google Analytics (GA) account is to create a filtered view that excludes all traffic from employees regularly accessing the site from work and/or personal computers. Doing so will provide a far more accurate picture for how your users flow through your site thereby allowing you to make necessary adjustments. Regardless of your GA skill level, this is super easy to…