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 Latest List Of Google Analytics Must Have Settings And Configurations

I’m attending #19NTC (the Nonprofit Technology Conference) in Portland, OR this week and in addition to a presenting a session on creating data driven culture along with fellow ArtsHacker, Ceci Dadisman, I’ll be hosting one of NTC’s new tactical sessions. Tactical sessions are shorter sessions, 30-minutes each, are designed to be deep dives into practical, immediately actionable tips and tricks. If that sounds like a lot like what ArtsHacker.com is all about, you’d be…

WordPress Plugin Review: Carbon Copy Menu Duplicator

Giveaway alert: submit your email to win a free one-year, one-site license for the plugin in this review. Who doesn’t love simple? But when it comes to some content management tasks inside WordPress, simple can get complicated in a real hurry. Case in point, duplicating menus.

While WordPress makes it easy to create multiple menus, there’s no default functionality to duplicate an existing menu. That means if you find yourself in a position where you need to make a copy of a menu, you must rebuild it from scratch, which can become double the hassle if you have a lot of custom link items or use custom classes.

Activate Google Signals And Slurp Up Even More Of That Sweet Google Juice

Google Signals provides the framework for tracking signed in users across devices, such as multiple browsers, mobile apps, mobile devices, and more. In short, the new reporting features in Signals will let you take advantage of enhanced advertising and reporting features. While all the cross-device capabilities are still in Beta mode, they’ve been up and running for several months. Consequently, if you were waiting to see how these new features would shake…

Orchestra & Opera Workplace Satisfaction: Winter 2019

The latest installment in the bi-annual series at my orchestra business blog that measures workplace satisfaction ratings of arts managers at orchestra and opera organizations by way of glassdoor.com reviews is now available. The Latest Update In Orchestra Workplace Satisfaction: Winter 2019 The Latest Update In Opera Workplace Satisfaction: Winter 2019 Expanding The Pie It would be wonderful to expand this effort into other performing arts sectors such as theatres, dance, performing…

Understanding The Difference Between Cloud Based and Hosted Software And Apps

An increasing amount of the time spent working with clients via my web development firm is understanding the differences between cloud based and hosted software and apps. There are no shortage of terminology bear traps and even the fundamental pricing structures can vary wildly. Recently, SmashingMagaine.com published an article by Zack Grossbart and Eduardo Abe that provides one of the most comprehensive written overviews I’ve come across. There are no prerequisite knowledge…

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. Here’s One from @FiveThirtyEight That Isn’t. Let’s See How Arts Admins Stack Up.

If you’re a data nerd then you almost certainly know about FiveThirtyEight.com, statistician Nate Silver’s number-crunching hub of data goodness. Recently, they posted a personality quiz that purports to deliver results that produce quantifiably meaningful results. In addition to taking the quiz as an individual, it’s designed to allow users to add their score to a predefined peer group. To that end, I am all kinds of curious to see how Arts…

Leveling Up Your WCAG Skills With Kontrast Chrome Extension

In November, 2018 we examined how you can move toward better web accessibility by focusing on improved color contrast. If you’re starting to get into a groove on those tasks, you probably realize the back-and-forth grind for checking colors can become a bit of a drag. Fortunately, there’s a Chrome extension designed for frontend developers that is so straightforward, anyone can use it. Since it’s baked right into the browser, you can…

Looking For A Creative Business Holiday Card Idea?

Business holiday cards can be a tricky task: you can always opt for safe/bland or cutesy/meme but doing something that reinforces your actual business relationship can be a tall order. Fortunately, I came across an idea years ago that does a great job at finding that sweet spot: the personalized infographic card. The infographic card does a great job at presenting shared accomplishments while simultaneously demonstrating that you’re following the client’s progress. The…

How Good Of A Job Does Your Organization Do With Cybersecurity?

In the wake of the Marriott hotel security breach that exposed not only exposed personal information for their customers, but also passport numbers and credit card payment information, it’s worth mentioning that your organization should have several measures in place to handle threats and be prepared to react accordingly in the event of a breach. In a timely announcement, the Nonprofit Technology Network, in conjunction with Microsoft, polled more than 250 nonprofit organizations…

Web Accessibility Through Content Management: Using Headers The Right Way

If web accessibility isn’t already on your radar, it should be.  At the heart of accessible design are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a central element of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. While many of the accessibility standards will include items you’ll never see, such as modifications and updates…

Ease Into Web Accessibility With Color Contrast

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 a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. You can dig into the nitty-gritty at the organization’s resource…

Your Email Marketing Provider May Now Be Collecting Sales Tax

In the wake of the June 21, 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair most remote sellers, such as email marketing providers, are now required to begin collecting sales tax in certain states. What this means is you or your organization may start seeing those charges showing up on invoices. If your organization is a 501(c)(3) you may be exempt, but you’ll likely need to provide your email marketing…

Get Even More Of That Sweet Google Juice Using Secondary Dimensions

Recently, my fellow ArtsHacker, Ceci Dadisman, and I conducted a private Google Analytics (GA) training session* for a nonprofit performing arts org. About mid-way through the session, we discovered that some of the attendees were unfamiliar with Secondary Dimensions and if there’s one GA feature that rises to “drop everything” status to learn, this is it. Per Google’s geek-speak definition, the “Secondary Dimension feature allows you to define a primary dimension and…

The Change History Dashboard: Your Google Analytics Secret Weapon

Although it’s been around since 2014, the Change History dashboard inside Google Analytics is one of those oft overlooked, but useful tools that can save your bacon at just the right moment…but only if you know it’s there! There are no settings to adjust, instead, the Change History dashboard is exactly what it sounds like: a list of recent changes. You can find it by navigating to “Admin > Account > Change…

12 Dark Pattern Tactics And How To Make Sure You Aren’t Using Them

Undoubtedly, arts organizations want to maintain as large of a list of engaged subscribers as possible when it comes to their users. But there’s a fine line between encouraging ongoing engagement and outright tricking patrons into signing up or making purchases they didn’t mean to. That’s exactly what Dark Patterns are; tricks used to make users engage in an action they didn’t intend. User Experience professional Harry Brignull is a champion of…

Easy Meeting Scheduling With Doodle

If I can put on my grumpy Gen-X arts admin hat for a moment, I have to say that the older I get, the less I enjoy trying new apps. Instead, finding something that works and sticking with it holds a lot of value. Having said that, when I do run across something new that makes me want to switch, it’s really exciting. Case in point, I started using Doodle to schedule…

Get Ready For Google Signals and Cross Device Reporting

Throughout 2018, Google has been releasing all sorts of new and enhanced features inside Analytics and one of the most recent promises to be one of the most exciting: cross device tracking and reporting. Here’s Google’s description: Cross Device reporting in Analytics takes into account people who visit your website multiple times from different devices. Now, instead of seeing metrics in Analytics that show two separate sessions (e.g., one on desktop and…

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