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

Don’t Forget To Filter Out Your Remote Work IP Addresses From Google Analytics

Thanks to fellow ArtsHacker Ceci Dadisman for putting a bug in my ear about reminding everyone who manages a Google Analytics (GA) account to add all of the remote and work from home IP addresses to your GA filters. Regular readers know how important it is to filter out your own visits from GA’s data (details), but the onset of remote working means you have a bunch of new IP Addresses to…

How To Effectively Communicate COVID-19 Announcements Using WordPress

No need for any backstory here, we’re all well aware of how much COVID-19 is impacting operations and one of the more pressing challenges is communicating organizational announcements to patrons. Today’s post provides step-by-step instructions on how to quickly create and manage COVID-19 announcements for websites running on WordPress. ContentsGoalsStep 1: Create A New Post Category Step 2: Create A New MessageStep 3: Create A COVID-19 Index PageStep 4: Creating A List Of…

Do You Have An Active RFP?

If your organization has an active RFP, we want it! Nonprofit Bids is set to launch but we need RFPs to populate the site. We have already had a number of providers sign up so your organization will likely be connected to a qualified provider right away when the site launches. Your RFP can be for any short-term or long-term project including but not limited to: Fundraising or Marketing Consulting Strategic Planning…

The Updated #ClickClickDone Slide Deck From #SETC2020 Is Available

The 2020 SETC conference was a great deal of fun and the Click.Click.Done. Must-Have Google Analytics Settings and Reports session was well attended with an engaging group of participants. It doesn’t matter how many times I present this session, there’s always something new to focus on thanks to the diversity of needs based on the sector attendees work. This version of the slide deck features a number of updated dashboards and examples…

Nonprofit Bids Is Coming Soon And It Needs Your RFPs

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to the interest inquiry about creating an online Request For Proposal (RFP) portal that nonprofit arts and culture orgs could use, free of charge, to post RFPs and solicit bids. The overwhelmingly positive feedback means it is going to be a thing and you can expect it to launch mid-March, just in time for the 2020 NTEN Conference. And in order to make…

Two Easy Methods For Shutting Down Comments In WordPress

WordPress is great…until it isn’t. The good news is most of those shortcomings are pretty easy to work with if you know your options. Moreover, most of them tend to be holdovers from the days when WP was primarily a blogging platform. Case in point: comments. For most arts organizations using WordPress for their publishing platform, the comment functionality is a pretty low priority if not entirely unnecessary. Unfortunately, comment fields show…

Who’s Interested In An RFP Resource Site?

I need your help today. Specifically, I’m looking for some feedback on an idea a colleague and I have about creating an online Request For Proposal (RFP) portal that nonprofit arts and culture orgs could use, free of charge, to post RFPs and solicit bids. Here’s an overview: The site would accept listings for all the things organizations solicit bids for: IT, web, CRM/Ticketing, grant writing, marketing, data analysis, etc. Submitting listings…

Does Your Navigation Suffer From UIC (Unnecessary Icon Labels)?

Recently, SmashingMagazine.com published an article by Suzanne Scacca that examines web trends that may be time to retire. While several aren’t applicable to most nonprofit arts orgs, there is one you should consider: unnecessary icon labels. Inside the design world, navigation icons are a great way to make clients feel like they are getting something super personal but in reality, it’s just billable filler that is easy to produce. Scacca uses a…

How Is Your Organization Approaching #GivingTuesday This Year?

Ever since its launch, #GivingTuesday had become a staple in most nonprofit organization’s fundraising schedule. Since then, it’s become everything from a much-needed holiday giving boost to a trigger for donor fatigue. I’m very curious to learn more about your experiences. Specifically: Have you experienced donor fatigue and if so, what steps have you taken to adjust solicitation material? Do you find the Toolkit Content provided by #GivingTuesday useful? Do you attempt…

ARTS ADVOCACY ALERT: Don’t Let .ORG Registry Be Sold To A Private Equity Firm #SaveDotOrg

Everyone in this field is likely aware of how important the .ORG domain extension is to nonprofits. And for nearly two decades, decisions regarding how .ORG registrations and renewals are handled have been the purview of the Internet Society (ISOC). This organization is responsible for policy decisions such as registration fees, suspensions, and rights protections. A recent action alert from NTEN highlights a plan by ISOC to sell off the Public Interest…

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…

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