Isn’t It About Time For an Arts Admin Version of Lifehacker?

Ah, where would we be without Lifehacker.com, the site dedicated to providing “tips, ticks, and downloads for getting things done.” Since 2005, the site has been a mainstay for practical advice and discussion; granted, it’s become a bit of a navigation quagmire in recent months, but the content is still entirely useful. So why doesn’t something like this exist for arts managers?

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-096Sure there are outlets like listservs maintained by the various service orgs where arts managers can share tips etc. but compared to Lifehacker they are little more than a series of myopic, one-off conversations for a handful of individuals transpiring behind closed doors. Add to this some entirely useful hyper-niche sites that provide some useful insight and you almost have a tenth of the usefulness something like Lifehacker provides.

Consequently, it’s high time to see what we can do about this. As it is, the field is awash in a sea of theory and visioning; there are new models aplenty and regardless of their value, they don’t amount to a hill of beans without implementation. Simply put, screw the conceptual stuff, we just need to get shit done.

Normally, this is exactly the sort of thing I’d dive into head first and build from ground up but my years as a twenty-something (hell, thirty-something) are long behind me and the time just doesn’t exist.

Having said that, the rare but oh-so-necessary elements I can provide are the platform, infrastructure, and guidance to deliver nuts-and-bolts style content designed to make arts managers more efficient and less stressed out.

Here’s What We’re Going To Do

In order to make an arts manager version of Lifehacker work, it is going to require content and that means we’ll need a super tight ninja squad of trench level arts manager pros writing about stuff they know other arts managers want. All of that would be supported by me; someone with more than a decade of experience writing a hit culture blog, more than seven years as the Inside The Arts blogging shepherd, the original arts entrepreneur impresario, and all around mensch; so yeah, supporting good people creating useful content is nothing but doable.

In the end, the idea has some real legs and could easily become an attractive target for Foundation support.

Who’s interested in becoming a contributor?

If you think you’ve got the insight, know-how, and enthusiasm to be a contributing ninja, complete the following form so we can see if there’s a solid pool of plank-owner contributors with the necessary wealth of knowledge to not only generate great content but aggregate it from the numerous outlets of online knowledge goodness.

And to be crystal clear here, no one cares about your age; sure, experience is great but getting shit done the right way is a cross-generational task. In a nutshell, everyone learns from everyone so to that end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer, or gainfully employed 9 to 5’er, there are no silly outdated prerequisites like that here.

And in case you were wondering if this is any sort of pay gig all I can say is “Ha!” but in all seriousness, I can see this getting some real legs and support from Foundations or <gasp>commercial investors</gasp>; but until then, you’ll have to suffice with becoming a rock star among the cultural blogging community.

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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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5 thoughts on “Isn’t It About Time For an Arts Admin Version of Lifehacker?

    • Many thanks for the kind words Kevein, it is always gratifying to hear that readers find the blog and subsequent discussion useful. As of this morning, the response has been terrific, I’m very pleased with both the quantity and quality of those expressing interest. I plan to keep pushing the announcement through the weekend then get in touch with everyone on Monday to begin quantifying interest, availability, etc.

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