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

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…

Are You Getting Google Search Console’s Monthly Performance Reports?

We haven’t talking about Google Search Console in a while, but it is still one of the best secret weapons most arts orgs aren’t using but should. Search Console works in tandem with Analytics and provides enhanced tools to measure search traffic and performance, find and fix issues, and maximize your rank in search results. Toward the beginning of 2020, Search Console started sending out monthly performance reports that include a genuinely…

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…

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