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

Detailed Image Analysis

An Already Great Tool Just Got Better: WebPageTest.org Image Analysis

We took a deep dive into webpagetest.org in December, 2016 to uncover how it can help you improve page loading times for your website. Recently, they released a new feature in the form of a detailed Image Analysis tool. To use the new tool, begin by running a standard test. Once the results are generated, select the “Image Analysis” link in the summary navigation row: A new tab will open and you’ll…

Break Out Of Dull @Org Mailbox Names

Break Out Of Dull @Org Mailbox Names

First and foremost, every organization should have at least one general mailbox name on hand. Yes, personal mailbox names are great (provided attrition isn’t too high) and following that, departmental addresses are also useful. Your group needs at least one generic mailbox name to use for the slew of third party provider accounts you’ll need that can always be accessed or recovered regardless of attrition (here’s why). Having said that, there’s no...
Why That Popup You Want So Badly Is Likely Killing Your Search Rank

Why That Popup You Want So Badly Is Probably Hurting Your Search Rank

Rarely do I encounter a web client that doesn’t want some sort of popup to capture email addresses, push an advertisement, or serve up some sort of call to action. Often, the need is genuine but how they envision implementation often risks hurting their search ranking. Here’s what you need to know in order to get past that learning hurdle. Traditional popups tend to force web visitors to interact with the popup…

Time To Sharpen Your Metrics Skills With A Free Webinar

If you’ve always wanted to attend a Click. Click. Done: Developing Your Google Analytics Skills session but couldn’t get away to the respective conference, I have some good news for you. This Thursday, May 25, 2017, the Ohio Arts Council is hosting a one hour webinar version from 12:30pm CT – 1:30pm CT. You can join me and fellow ArtsHacker Ceci Dadisman where we will be focusing on the nuts and bolts…

Venue Security

One Crucial Item You Don’t Want To Forget About When Creating Bag Policies For Your Venue

When it comes to a performing arts venue’s security measures, it’s easy to see why there’s been a sharp uptick in concern over the past few years. I recall a session from the 2016 Arts Midwest Conference titled Venue Safety and Security: Protecting Public Assemblies in the 21st Century. There have been several similar sessions across the performing arts conference circuit and as a result, arts venues have been updating and refining their…

net neutrality

What You Can Do To Help Save Net Neutrality

As arts managers, we should all be very concerned about net neutrality, the series of FCC regulations that limit internet service providers, or ISPs (think Time Warner, Cox, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) from restricting, or even blocking, content for pretty much any reason they see fit. Net neutrality managed to dodge a bullet in 2015 but the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair, Ajit Varadaraj Pai, would like to gut those rules…

learning css

Three Useful CSS Learning Resources To Help You Become A More Valuable Arts Manager

One of the most common tech education questions I get from clients and designer colleagues is recommendations for learning how to code. Gone are the days where coding skills are limited to those who want to become professional programmers; instead, we live in a digital platform world where beginning to intermediate skills can go a long way toward letting you have increased control and a better understanding behind how and why online…

Should Links Open In Same Or New Windows/Tabs?

Should Links Open In Same Or New Windows/Tabs?

When it comes to whether or not links should open in the same or new windows/tabs, the answer for most arts organizations is straightforward: links should open in the same window/tab.  Before diving into why this is the case and how to determine when they should open in new windows/tabs, we’re going to approach this from a contemporary web environment and take a few things for granted: It’s rare for web users…

Website Policies Which Ones You Need And Why They Matter

Website Policies: Which Ones You Need And Why They Matter

Although they may not seem terribly sexy, website policies are an extremely important part of an arts organization’s online presence and the types of activities you provide at your site will determine which policies you need and what they should address. Types Of Policies And Determining Which Ones You Need Although there are numerous types of policies related to online activity, they aren’t always applicable to arts organizations. For example, you probably…

Google Fi Groups

Google Fi Update: Group Plans!

Last May, we took a close look at Google’s Project Fi and it’s potential for being a high quality, low cost cellular provider capable of introducing much needed communication options for arts organizations. At that time, Google only offered individual plans, which was admittedly a drawback if you wanted to manage several user plans under a single billing account. Fortunately, Google launched a new group plan option in late 2016 that allows…

How Accessible Is Your Website? Here’s How You Can Find Out

Did you know that a routine boilerplate included in many grant agreements stipulates the receiving organization agrees that their website complies to accessibility standards? Granted, I have yet to see a funder yank a grant for failing to comply, but that doesn’t mean you should bury your head in the sand. Fortunately, we’re going to look at a couple of free tools you can use to help you meet and exceed recommended…

Getting Started

Make Sure You’re Getting the Internet Connection Speeds You’re Paying For

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are big on promoting how fast your office, home, or cellular connections are. In fact, it’s one of the single most important aspects of their service. But how do you know if you’re getting the connection speeds you’re paying for? If you have an in-house IT professional or pay a third-party provider, you should confirm they are routinely testing your connection speeds. But if you don’t have the…

Using Smart Objects In Photoshop To Create Supercharged Templates

Using Smart Objects In Photoshop To Create Supercharged Templates

If you work with Photoshop to create graphics for your organization and aren’t using Smart Objects, you’re missing out on so much. Back in July, 2015 we examined how Smart Objects inside premium Photoshop templates to create stunning looking graphics but creating your own templates is easier than you might think. Adobe defines Smart Objects as “that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart…

Keeping Your WordPress Site Running Fast Three Non-Technical Tips Anyone Can Implement

Keeping Your WordPress Site Running Fast. Three Non-Technical Tips Anyone Can Implement.

When it comes to online conversions, speed kills; or to be more precise, lack of speed kills. The long it takes for pages to load, the less likely site visitors will hang around waiting. In many cases, maximizing page speed is something best left to specialists so be sure to ask your provider (or find one). Having said that, there are some things you can do that require little to no technical…

Take Advantage Of These Photoshop Templates To Update Your Social Media Branding [2017]

One of the more popular posts here at ArtsHacker is from June, 2015 and provides links to downloadable Photoshop (PSD) templates you can use to create fantastic header images for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. The templates are available from graphic designer Pauline Cabera at her website, TwelveSkip.com. She updated the entire template group since that original post and they continue to do an excellent job at illustrating the finer points of…

Hidden Productivity Gems Adobe Fireworks Batch Image Processing

Hidden Productivity Gems: Adobe Fireworks Batch Image Processing

No doubt about it, Adobe Creative Cloud apps are all kinds of useful. Most arts managers tend to work with the Big 3: InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator but if you have access to the full suite or additional stand alone apps, one hidden gem waiting to be discovered is the batch processing tool inside Fireworks; even if you never use Fireworks for anything other than the batch processing tool, you’ll still boost…

Ranked Choice Voting

Get Your Vote On…The Ranked Choice Way

In light of an Electoral College with an unusually high degree of scrutiny, it seems fitting to point out a voting system that could be better options for your needs than the traditional simple majority plurality ballot: Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Also known as instant-runoff voting or preferential voting, allows voters to rank candidates/options by order of choice. It’s flexible enough to work for both single winner and multiple seat style elections…

How To Avoid Facebook & Twitter Share Fail

How To Avoid Facebook & Twitter Share Fail

Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for generating interest and driving ticket sales but there’s no getting around the fact that you must play by their rules. More often than not, this means jumping through a few hoops to customize or update your share content. ContentsHere Are Two Common ProblemsFacebook SolutionTwitter Solution Here Are Two Common Problems Facebook Solution Tip: if you’ve published or updated several pages, use the “Batch Invalidator” tab…

One Of The Best Free Tools You Can Use To Measure Page Speed

One Of The Best Free Tools You Can Use To Measure Page Speed

It should come as no surprise that your website page load speed has a direct impact on conversions (revenue, social, and feedback). At the same time, there’s a lot of information about there about load times and wading through all of it to weed out the few knowledge needles in a haystack of opinion can be tough. But one resource that’s worth your time which approaches the topic in an accessible format…

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