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

2019 #NAMPC Slide Deck: A Content Manager’s Guide To Website Accessibility

As always, #NAMPC was a great time and the Content Manager’s Guide To Website Accessibility workshop was a real hit. Before I forget, I wanted to take a moment to make the slide deck available. The slide deck is available at Google Slides and open to all: I’ve always felt speaker notes are an integral component to a good presentation. My ArtsHacker colleague, Joe Patti, summed it up nicely when he wrote “one…

How To Temporarily Block A Page From Google Search Results

There are all sorts of reasons why you may need to block a page from appearing in Google search results and fortunately, Google provides a tool you can use to make this happen. Having said that, there is one important prerequisite you’ll need to take advantage of the tool in the form of a Google Search Console (GSC) account connected to the website where the page lives. If you don’t have a…

You Can Now Pick Up Your Very Own Arts Admin Merit Badges

In response to the enormously positive feedback and requests asking where you can pick up actual Arts Admin Merit Badges, we decided to make them available for order. Expected shipping for Round 1 is Monday, Nov 11 and if they sell out of most by the end of November, rest assured Round 2 will be a much larger order to accommodate holiday gift giving (because who wouldn’t love to get a set!?!). Round 1 includes 17…

Arts Admin Merit Badges

Any arts administrator worth their salt should be able to sell a ticket, plan an invasion, make brunch, conn a ship, design a brochure, write a sonnet, balance the books, build a wall, carry a tune, comfort the board, take orders, give orders, ignore orders, implement orders, act alone, be a team player, solve equations, analyze data, give an elevator pitch, program a computer, herd cats, and look fabulous doing it.* Specialization…

An Updated And Expanded Must-Have Google Analytics Settings Deck

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of running a workshop on Must-Have Google Analytics Settings for the League of Chicago Theatres. The 90 minute session included an updated and expanded version of the Click. Click. Done. session that’s been a hit at several nonprofit arts admin conferences over the past several years. I want to extend my thanks to the League’s Director of Member Services, Ben Thiem, for organizing everything and…

Free 2019 Twitter PSD Header Template + Free Online Design Resources = Branding Happiness

If it’s been more than a year since you updated your Twitter account header image, it’s high time for something new. To that end, ArtsHacker has you covered with free Photoshop template capable of helping you design the best possible image header that looks great across both browser and app based versions. ContentsJust The SpecsWhy The Template HelpsDesign TipsFree Online Design Resources Just The Specs If you’re more of the DIY type…

Image Alt Text And Accessibility

Creating image alt text is one of the more time-consuming and challenging content management tasks to complete. It is also one of the most rewarding so always know that the time you put into it pays off. Web content accessibility is an increasingly important topic and if it isn’t already on your radar, it should be. At the heart of accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a central element of…

Unleash Your Data Driven UX Superhero With This ArtsU Webinar & Discount Code

I’m very happy to announce that on Friday, September 27, 2019 I’ll be leading an Americans for Arts ArtsU webinar on using metrics to refine and enhance your website’s user experience. Better still, the generous folks at Americans for the Arts were kind enough to provide a special discount code non-members can use to reduce the registration fee! About The Webinar Date: Friday, September 27, 2019 Time: 3:00PM ET Creating happy user…

Add Context To Your Google Analytics Data Using Annotations

One of the best kept secrets in Google Analytics hiding in plain sight are annotations, which are little notes you can add to the timeline. Think of it like a 160-character max digital sticky note. Using them is very straightforward and they go a long way toward helping you keep track of variations in regular traffic patterns. Getting started is easy, just go to the Audience > Overview section of your Google…

2019 ArtsReach Slide Deck

We’re all about sharing the love, and wanted to share a copy of the session slide deck from our 2019 ArtsReach presentation on must have Google Analytics Settings. It includes the latest screenshots from Google Analytics admin panels and copious notes describing why each setting is important along with answers to typical questions that arise during the respective setup processes. It was a terrific session with an engaged group of attendees. Additional…

Turn Lists Into Columns With A Little CSS Magic

One of the most common content management frustration points I find clients encounter is finding an attractive way to display long lists inside webpages. For example, the ubiquitous donor list. Sure, a dozen or so names for larger donors in a bullet list looks fine but what about when you get to that $1-$99 range and you have hundred(s) of names? Fortunately, there’s a CSS trick that will let you convert regular…

New Research Into Nonprofit Staff Compensation

There’s an excellent article in the 6/12/2019 edition of fastcampny.com by Ben Paynter that examines two recent studies on nonprofit staff compensation. Spoiler alert: both studies uncovered ample evidence that compensation is a strong pain point among most employees. We conducted our own bit of reader research back in 2016 on how and why arts admins change jobs and sure enough, compensation was tied for the most common reason. How And Why…

Effective And Affordable Website User Testing

Whether it’s your website, email marketing templates, or landing pages, user testing is a critical step toward the end of a digital redesign process. Implemented properly, the process should include live and remote user testing utilizing one of several tools made expressly for those purposes. But the reality is that process requires time and adds costs that many arts organizations simply can’t accommodate in their budget. Fortunately, we’re here to help and…

If You’re Using Slack And Need Project Management Functionality, You Need Workast

One of the best trends in software and app development is the rise of offerings designed to integrate with other platforms as opposed to starting life as standalone offering. Case in point: Workast, a project and task management app designed to integrate seamlessly into Slack. If you aren’t already familiar with Slack, it’s a communication and collaboration platform that is simply fabulous. If you need a way to communicate with team members…

Fingerprint And Face ID Authentication FINALLY Comes To Lastpass

One of the first lines of defensive in a good cybersecurity hygiene is maintaining strong passwords. Technically, May 2, 2019 was national password day but it’s never too late to indulge in some improved security measures. One of the best favors you can do for yourself is use a password manager, like the one from LastPass.com (they have free and paid versions), which we reviewed in an article from 2016. While LastPass…

Website Policies: Which Ones You Need And Why They Matter 2019

A little more than two years ago, we took some time to review the type of website policies your organization should maintain and since then, the topic of online personal data collection and related policies has exploded. Everything from sweeping reforms such as the European Union’s (EU) new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations and data breach policies in the wake of massive corporate hacks mean it is more important than ever…

Press Kits: What Arts Orgs Actually Want

Press kits are easy, all it takes is making some photos and a pdf bio available then call it a day, right? Guess again. While that might be the bare minimum from days past, an effective artist press kit requires considerably more time and effort to craft. It isn’t unfair to say most arts marketers have anywhere from 5-20 minutes per event for compiling all the related artist information. That includes promo…

How A Healthy Data Driven Culture Energizes Healthy UX

I recently wrapped up a workshop for Americans for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts on Website User Experience with a terrific group of participants taking part in a two-year capacity building initiative titled Arts Marketing and Audience Engagement in the 21st Century: Building the Capacity of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Sector. Though yesterday’s temps were chilly, it didn’t stop Drew McManus of Venture Industries Online from presenting a great… Posted by Pennsylvania Council…

Let’s Talk About Arts And Technology

Mark your calendar: Thursday, April 18, 2019 from 12:30-2:00pm CT I’ll be taking part in Arts Alliance Illinois’ ARTS MOVE POLICY (AMP): Arts + Technology webinar. Thanks to the generosity of The Joyce Foundation and the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, registration is free of charge. This webinar is part of their larger AMP series, which take a deeper dive into topics as they intersect with the arts. Previous topics include Arts +…

GA Skills For Creating A Data Driven Culture: Secondary Dimensions

One of the most popular sections of the data driven culture session I co-presented at the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference was how to modify a HiPPO culture. If you aren’t already familiar with the acronym, HiPPO stands for: HighestPaidPerson’sOpinion A common challenge for those entrusted with gathering, analyzing, and reporting data is creating trust and buy-in among those in executive leadership positions. Fortunately, there are some super easy tools you can use…

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