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

Please Don’t Ignore Me! Rethinking How We Design For Attention

In an age where arts organizations are learning how to re-engage patrons with remote activity, it never hurts to reexamine what we take for granted. To that end, there’s a fantastic article by Victor Yocco at SmashingMagazine.com that provides exactly the sort of perspective our field can benefit from when engaging digital initiatives. Out of the gate, Yocco does a good job at framing the discussion by reviewing two sub-types of attention…

It’s Time For An Admin User Audit

Even in non-pandemic times, scheduling regular admin user audits is a good idea. What we’re talking about is going through all the online platforms your organization maintains and making sure the existing admin user accounts are for active employees. Any others should be removed. When we talk about online platforms, these include, but are not limited to: Website CRM/ticketing platform Email marketing platform Social media accounts Transactional email providers Institutional email accounts…

An Easy Way To Limit URLs Allowed To Embed A Video

One of the more popular questions coming in from my Venture Platform users right now is how to embed a video so it can only playback on a password protected page. The goal is straightforward: performing arts organizations are looking for ways to offer protected video content. Unfortunately, most of the popular video hosting services are designed to give away your content free of charge. Fortunately, Vimeo provides a solution that won’t…

Free Photoshop Template For Converting Images from Portrait Aspect Ratio To Landscape

We’ve all been there: you need images in landscape aspect ratio for digital content but all of your source files are in portrait. Frustrating, right? For the most part, trying to convert a portrait image to landscape involves some serious photo editing skills and you can simply forget it if the image includes too much background detail or the subject bleeds to either edge. Fortunately, there is one option that can make…

Cross Pollinating Ideas About Moving Into The Realm Of Digital Experiences

There’s an excellent article in the 6/23/2020 edition of SmashingMagazine.com by Suzanne Scacca that examines the ways COVID-19 is forcing the restaurant sector to radically rethink the way they approach websites. Restaurants are notorious for having some of the worst websites. To a large degree, it’s the byproduct of having services like Yelp and OpenTable become the source for revenue generating traffic. As a result, a lousy web design with outdated info…

Get The Right Microphone To Fit Your Needs

There’s a great article from Adam Molina on soundguys.com that walks you through all of the considerations for selecting a microphone to use when creating online content. It’s clearly written in response to the uptick in organizations and individuals joining the ranks of online content creators. As a result, it’s an excellent mix of ground floor understanding and technical considerations to help you match a microphone with your usage and budget. Plenty…

If You’re Looking For An Easy To Use App For Scheduling Online Meetings, Check Out Vyte.in

For the longest time, I’ve used Doodle to schedule online meetings. It’s still a great tool but since Covid-19 shutdowns began, I’ve discovered that Vyte.in is just as effective and tends to be much easier to use for online scheduling newbies. While the basic approach is the same between both apps, Vyte provides a much cleaner user interface (UI) and requires fewer steps to set up invites. One of Doodle’s ongoing pain…

Applying A Little Math And Science To Social Distancing Ticket Revenue

There’s a fascinating article (h/t Rainer Glaap) at ActivityStream.com that examines very positive results from efforts to science our way through maximizing revenue during live events if halls reopen with social distancing regulations in effect. It’s a positive step in the direction we examined from 5/6/2020 in that Activity Stream’s work includes maximum effort analysis to begin calculating optimum seating configurations for sales of single and group adjacent seating. They take things to the next level by…

Arts Admin State Of Employment Poll, Update 2

It’s been one month since we started asking readers to complete a short, two question survey designed to measure how the employment status of arts administrators and independent contractors is being impacted by coronavirus related shutdowns. As of today, just over half of respondents indicate they are still working and being paid at my regular full time or part time status, and that’s great news. A quarter of respondents indicated they are…

Check Your Tone

Given that we’re all using written communication more than usual, it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider tone. Unless you’re all-in on injecting emojis into everyday business communication, you should consider spot checking using a tone analyzer. To that end, visit IBM’s tone analyzer demo. Since the onset of COVID-19 shutdowns, I’ve been testing a cross-section of my email messages through the analyzer to make sure I’m not…

Arts Admin State Of Employment Poll, Update 1

On April 12, we asked readers to complete a short, two question poll designed to measure how the employment status of arts administrators and independent contractors is being impacted by coronavirus related shutdowns. Originally, we designed the poll to happen on a rolling weekly basis but it’s looking like a better option is to maintain the same poll from week to week and allow visitors to submit an updated status at least…

Arts Admin State Of Employment Poll April 13 – 19

Last week, I launched a poll at my orchestra management blog asking readers share their employment status in the wake of coronavirus related shutdowns. The responses were so strong, I decided to turn it into a weekly poll to track changes throughout the shutdown. That poll only focuses on the orchestra sector and I am curious to see how shutdowns are impacting broader nonprofit arts and culture workers. To that end, I…

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…

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