2010 Orchestra Website Review: US and Canadian Comparisons

The final article in the 2010 Orchestra Website Reviews will compare and contrast US and Canadian results. Both groups made advancements but this was the first year where US orchestras grew at a faster pace than the Canadians…

Category By Category Comparisons

The differences between US and Canadian average category score strengths and weaknesses were, for the most part, quite close. In fact, one category produced the first ever draw as both groups garnered identical average scores. Nonetheless, Canadian orchestras managed to win four out of six categories, US orchestras captured, one and there was one draw. The following table breaks down the results:

The two categories where Canadian orchestras outpaced their US peers were Orchestra Information and Making Donations. Within the Orchestra Information category, Canadian orchestras did a substantially better job at providing complete staff contact information as well as improved board member bios and contact information. However, US orchestras did a slightly better job at providing musician information. In Making Donations, the Canadians outpaced their US peers in levels of security and providing a greater variety of online giving opportunities.

The one category where US orchestras excelled, Purchasing Tickets, was due to the sharp rise in orchestras offering individual seat selection for single and subscription online purchases. US orchestras also provided more interactive seating charts and improved online transaction security.

The North American Top 10

Although the highest scoring Canadian orchestra moved up a slot from last year’s review, they were the only Canadian orchestra to make it into the North American Top 10. The two other Canadian orchestras on this list from last year were bumped out due to a slight decrease in their overall score and a cumulative increase in top scoring US orchestras.

Once again, US orchestras managed to reach higher highs than the Canadians who did a better overall job at designing and implementing adequate website fundamentals.

In the end, Canadian websites managed to stay ahead of their US peers but they failed to grow at the same rate. It will be interesting to see what 2011 produces. Will the Canadians manage to break the 90/100 threshold? Will US orchestras continue to grow at an accelerated level and leap frog ahead of their Canadian peers? Will US orchestras kick all of the Canadians out of the North American Top 10? We’ll know by this time next year but so long as scores continue to improve, the entire field wins as a result of an improved overall online presence.

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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