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

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…

How To Go About Creating A Harassment Reporting Process That Protects Employees

The Washington Post published an article on 7/26/18 that reports allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against several leaders throughout the nonprofit performing arts sector. In a follow-up article, the Post published the following comment from the CEO at one of the organizations where one of the subjects from the article works. “There was no blind eye turned,” [Cleveland Orchestra executive director André Gremillet] said. “No allegations were made; no one came…

Persuasion (Conversion) Made Easy

There’s a terrific article from Lyndon Cerejo in the 7/17/2018 edition of Smashing Magazine that examines a very keep it simple approach to persuading website visitors to conversion. Cerejo reviews what he calls the stages of a persuasion funnel: attention, interest, desire, and action …along with how each stage is influenced by: cognitive (thinking), and affective (feeling). All those combinations of elements influence what he calls persuasive design and the related sages…

Get Ready To Begin Paying For Google Maps Integration

On July 17, 2018 Google’s new pricing structure kicks in for the use of Maps, Routes, and Places. You’ll be required to create an account and a billing profile. These changes are all part of the new Google Maps Platform. Good news is the program will help streamline a lot of existing hurdles to use Maps, Routes, and Places but the bad includes required account and billing profile. And when they say…

Time To Think About Compensation Resources

Within the parameters of nonprofit performing arts, compensation can be a sticky subject, especially when it comes to those at the top of the pay scale. Fortunately, transparency goes a long way and you have multiple resources for researching current trends. An article I posted here at ArtsHacker in 2016 is every bit as relevant now as it was then: Looking For Some Nonprofit Compensation Resources? If you’re looking for something more…

Red Pill/Blue Pill: Effective Data Driven Decision Making

On Saturday, June 2, 2018, me and my fellow ArtsHacker, Ceci Dadisman, enjoyed an opportunity to present a session titled Red Pill/Blue Pill: Effective Data Driven Decision Making to the 37th Annual Association of Arts Administration Educators Conference. We had a great deal of fun and the session was well received. Since we’re all about the share here at ArtsHacker, we wanted to make the Google Slides available to all. As has…

WordPress 4.9.6: A GDPR Compliance Release

If you’re a WordPress user, you might have noticed the recent 4.9.6 update release. This is an important update in that it enables you to help make your site compliant with the European Union’s (EU) new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations thanks to the following changes. A New Privacy Policy Setting Admin Panel Ideally, you already have a Privacy Policy page up and running at your website. If you do, this part is super…

Orchestra & Opera Workplace Satisfaction: Spring 2018

At the end of 2016, we published a pair of articles that surveyed arts managers about how and why they changed jobs. Since then, I’ve been tracking workplace satisfaction levels at orchestras and operas by way of glassdoor.com reviews. The Spring 2018 update was published at my orchestra management blog but I wanted to see if any ArtsHacker readers would be interested in compiling similar data for other arts sectors (theater, dance,…

Is Google Reading Your Data Correctly? Find Out with This Handy Tool

In order to really maximize your content in Google search results, you should be taking advantage of structured data. Back in December, 2015 we learned how to use Google’s terrific Data Highlighter tool to manually match your content up with their structured data formats. That tool is still available, but the best way is still integrated structured data tags right into your specialized content. However, figuring out if that task has been…

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