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 Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I’m just a tech geek. I bring 20+ 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.

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

The Secret To Converting Paragraph Breaks Into Line Breaks And Creating Comma Separated Lists

Pretty much every arts administrator knows the pain of looking at a long list of content in a Microsoft Word document where each line is separated by a paragraph, but you need them separated by line breaks. You could go through and manually change each…and…every…one or you can use this Find and Replace trick to do the entire doc in seconds. Convert Paragraph To Line Breaks (and vice versa) Use CTRL +…

Do All Of Your Web Pages Have Conversion Goals?

Conversion goals are one of those odd things every arts marketer seems to know they need but for whatever reason, most groups have too many webpages with zero goals. For those on the outside of marketing-jargon, conversion goals are the thing you want a visitor to do at your website. For the most part, they can be broken down into three basic types: Revenue generation: purchasing a ticket or making a donation. Lead…

The Status Of Required Vaccination Policies Among Nonprofit Performing Arts Orgs

The  Vax Policy Database has been gathering data since August 20, 2021 and it’s been adding new records daily. Over the holiday weekend, I added additional view to the database making it easier to see exactly which organizations require all stakeholders to be vaccinated, which provide all stakeholders except ticket buyers, which only require artist employees and staff, and the sliver that have a defined “no required vaccination” policy. At the time…

Looking To The EEOC For Clarification On Religious Discrimination Vaccination Exemptions

Among the numerous details to work out when crafting required vaccination policies is when an employee cites religious objections and requests an exmpetion. Recently, the 8/30/21 edition of starnewsonline.com published an article by John Staton that reports on the Wilmington Symphony’s decision to deny a musician’s religious exemption to their required vaccination policy. The article includes the following statement about when an employer isn’t required to accommodate religious belief requests: At any…

Resource: Performing Arts Org Vax Policy Database

Insisting on verifiable vaccination status to attend concert events is becoming policy at an increasing number of nonprofit performing arts venues. But coming up with policies and tracking peer status can be quite the challenge so in order to make that task easier, my fellow ArtsHacker, Ceci Dadisman, and I put together a performing arts org vax policy database. Special thanks to violinist Holly Mulcahy for her assistance in getting this ball…

Free 2021 Insta Profile, TikTok, YouTube Channel, Insta Stories, Facebook, and LinkedIn Company PSD Mockups

The folks at Kambadastudio recently released a round of new high quality photoshop templates for a wide variety of social media platforms and along with their paid options, they included a septet of free templates for Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Unlike the header specific templates I’ve featured in previous articles, these include more elements from the respective profile pages. For example, the YouTube file includes not just the header but…

If Google Analytics 4 Feels Overwhelming, You’re Not Alone

It’s easy to look at the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) dashboards and feel completely lost. For those who don’t have a great deal of experience working with GA4 you may think the issue is you but rest assured, there is a considerable amount of angst from even the most seasoned marketers and data analysts. There’s a great article from Roger Montti published in the June 23, 2021 edition of searchenginejournal.com that…

Another New SBA Funding Program You Should Be Aware Of (With A Bonus Resource Hidden Gem)

In early April, 2021 the U.S. Small Business Administration announced it was expanding the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program and as this last weekend, they announced another program that might help some arts and culture organizations. The new programs are called the Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance. Compared to the previous programs, these are actual grants and have more narrowly defined qualifications. Full program details per the…

Sold-Out Ticket Scams Start Hitting Social Media

Scammers haven’t wasted any time attempting to suck blood from the turnip of burgeoning performing arts org concert activity. The latest attempt to exploit organizations focuses on events that are at capacity or sell out quickly thanks to limited numbers of seats available due to COVID restrictions. The scam is straightforward enough: Fake user posts a comment to an event post at your Facebook wall saying they have some of the limited…

Even More Reasons Web Accessibility Should Be On Your Radar

The folks at UsableNet have some news you need to hear. In December 2020 they published a report that shows digital accessibility lawsuits rose 100% over 2020. These are lawsuits filed against organizations for failing to have websites that comply with accessibility standards. Known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), these are a central element of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide…

Ever Wish You Had A Do Not Disturb Light When Working From Home?

Since the onset of pandemic, arts admins have navigated the working from home rapids. One of the primary challenges is letting others in the same space know when you’re at a point where you need some privacy. Whether it’s frantically working on an urgent deadline, tasks that require heads-down focus, or in a zoom meeting, letting family members and housemates know to steer clear is a challenge. Sure, you could put sticky…

Candidate Resumes Are Officially A Thing At Arts Admin Jobs

Now that job postings are returning to pre-pandemic levels at our sister site, Arts Admin Jobs, it’s time to launch the next big thing: a candidate database where job seekers can post their information free of charge and employers can use for a small fee to find admin talent. While this is quite common at jobs sites specializing in commercial sectors, it’s still (surprisingly) rare for the nonprofit performing arts field. Having…

Quickbooks Rolls Out Fee Increase During Pandemic

Quickbooks sent users an email on 3/10/21 notifying them the ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment option that allows clients to pay invoices with funds directly from a bank account was going from a no-fee payment option to charging a one percent fee. Even worse is they are only giving users one month advance notice. As a Quickbooks users, I as pretty upset when this email arrived and immediately called their billing department…

Top Level Navigation: To Click Or Not To Click

When it comes to designing your website navigation menu, you’ll eventually need to make one critical choice in the form of deciding whether to make the top-level navigation menu items clickable or to trigger a hover-and-expand function to show sub-menu items. While there are all sorts of rabbit holes in this topic such as how accessibility considerations may impact your decisions, there’s one quick and easy sure-fire rule of thumb to remember:…

Get Into The Pronoun Groove With Zoom

As a member of Gen X, I’ll be the first to admit that incorporating pronoun use into my daily routine takes a conscious effort. Having said that, pronoun use is a positive step toward improved inclusion and one contemporary point of contact you might be overlooking is your Zoom display name. Fortunately, Zoom makes it super simple to add your preferred pronouns to your display name. Go to My Account, it should…

Get Up And Running With Google Search Console

While Google Search Console (GSC) has always been a power tool every organization should use, it still manages to be one of those things that gets overlooked. Fortunately, it’s increasingly easy to get an account up and running. Google Site Kit, for WordPress, completely automates what used to be a multi-step process. We’ll review how to set up an account manually in a subsequent article. But even if you have an account…

You Probably Have More Broken Links Than You Realize

Among the numerous pandemic driven content management tasks that are likely on your plate, checking your site for broken links should be high priority item. If you’re like most groups, you probably ripped up, deleted, and otherwise moved all kinds of site content (think of your events alone). As a result, you probably have a higher ratio of bad links than normal. Free Tools One Chrome extension everyone should have on hand…

A Pandemic Driven Update To Business Holiday Cards

In 2018, I published an article that provided an option for creating a creative business card. Based on your feedback, it entirely helpful for many readers so I wanted to share an update that is more suitable for the COVID era. The original idea focused on pulling statistics from your client/organization’s Google Analytics account, such as the number of annual users. All things being equal, it’s a great option but in the…

Why You May Want To Wait Before Upgrading To Google Analytics 4

You may have heard about the big Google Analytics 4 (G4) rollout a few weeks ago. No doubt about it, G4 ushers in a remarkable new world of tools that add AI-driven insights, even better cross device tracking, and deeper data controls. Having said all of that, there are a few strong reasons why you may want to wait before upgrading. G4 won’t connect to most open source publishing platforms, like WordPress,…

Looking For A Decentralized Office Phone Solution?

Now that many organizations are vested in a remote workforce model, one of the logistical questions to consider is how to handle phone extensions. If your organization is a G Suite user, then you have a remarkably easy to implement solution ready to go in the form of Google Voice. Google Voice is a VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service that started back in 2009 but took nearly a decade to really…

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