2010 Canadian Orchestra Website Review: Trends and Detailed Scores

By and large, it was a fairly neutral year most Canadian orchestra websites. The average score inched up a bit and most of the changes in rank took place among the groups that scored toward the middle…


On one hand, there isn’t much to report as grades improved a bit but that was due to one group moving from a D to a C. Otherwise, the results were identical to 2009, as illustrated by the following chart:

Category Scores

On the other hand, average results by category were more interesting. Most categories demonstrated varying degrees of improvement with the exception of the Performance Schedule category. This category suffered due to two primary reasons:

  1. Some redesigns from 2009 to 2010 removed an interactive calendar from the home page.
  2. Home page calendars were present but not fully interactive; meaning, clicking on a day’s event redirected the user to an interior page as opposed to providing event details and action buttons or links for direct ticket purchases.

The latter caused a few groups to garner lower scores than last year and since this category only contains two sub categories, any dip in sub category score has a proportionality larger impact on the category and overall score. The only other average category score to drop a bit was Purchasing Tickets, and that was the result of marginally lower performance in the subscription sub category.

The reaming categories all enjoyed increases which ranged from marginal to sizeable.

Dynamic content continued to improve at the fastest rate of any category. The explosion of social media initiatives, which were then listed at their institutional website, helped push this category to an all time high average score. The average Orchestra Information category score moved up as a result of improved board and music director information. The following chart illustrates the change in category scores since the inaugural review in 2005.

Detailed Scores

New for the 2010 reviews is an interactive data table to display category scores, which makes it easier for groups to compare how their organization performed per review category alongside their peers. A similar data table with greatly expanded information that drills down through sub category scores is available with an Adaptistration Premium subscription.

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Survey Responses

Each year, orchestras in the review are invited to complete an optional survey designed to provide readers with information about each orchestra’s website that go beyond the items included in the review, such as ticket sales information and design details. In order to promote as open of exchanges as possible, respondents are provided the opportunity to have their answers published here for all to see or to keep the results limited to the survey report, which is delivered to respondents free of charge as a way to thank them for their participation. Consequently, only one Canadian orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, elected to have their responses published as part of the public review articles.

Edmonton Symphony

The Venture Platform

One of the byproducts from conducting the Orchestra Website Reviews for so many years, listening to so many marketing and IT professionals pinpoint their frustrations with developing an online presence, and working directly with numerous groups on these efforts is a precise knowledge of what arts organizations need to improve those efforts. Over the years, I’ve searched for a way to bring all of this together by creating a system designed especially for performing arts organizations and over the past season that goal was finally achieved with the release of The Venture Platform.

I am enormously proud of what Venture has to offer and I firmly believe it will have a positive impact on how performing arts organizations will successfully present their concert schedule, sell tickets, facilitate making donations, provide organizational information, and utilize dynamic content on a platform that’s designed especially for their needs.

Read more about Venture and how it relates to the Orchestra Website Reviews in the series’ disclosure article.

About Drew McManus

"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.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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