Off To Johnstown, PA For A Workshop On User Experience

Adaptistration People 168I’m in Johnstown, PA today to lead a workshop on Website User Experience with a terrific group of participants taking part in a two-year capacity building initiative from Americans for the Arts. To be more precise, it’s the Arts Marketing and Audience Engagement in the 21st Century: Building the Capacity of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Sector.

Funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the program is designed to support, strengthen and advance the arts marketing and audience engagement skills of arts and cultural professionals.

Goals & Objectives

With internally-facing and externally-facing goals and objectives, the Initiative seeks to:

  1. Assist Pennsylvania-based arts and cultural organizations achieve increased and engaged audiences on a consistent basis through skill-building in the areas of arts marketing and audience engagement.
  2. Address long-term systemic issues of declining arts participation and loyal arts audiences in Pennsylvania.
  3. Assist arts and cultural organizations – particularly those within diverse communities – in attracting and retaining expanded audiences.

A group of 50 participants made up of 25, two-person teams will be selected to join the cohort through an online application process. Each Cohort will undergo two years of training designed to:

  • Build stronger strategic collaborations and solidarity among Pennsylvania-based arts and cultural organizations.
  • Provide opportunity and space for Pennsylvania-based arts and cultural organizations to normalize these new engagement models and structures within their local communities.
  • Advance and enhance the capacity and marketing skills of PA arts and cultural organizations to implement new engagement models, better understand the communities they serve, and sustain relevance amidst changing environments and shifting demographics.
  • A dynamic and inclusive learning environment will cultivate intercultural space and provide arts professionals the skills, support, knowledge, and agency to confidently respond to and initiate approaches to address complex questions facing the landscape of arts marketing and audience engagement.
  • Provide Pennsylvania’s arts and cultural community with increased access to a diverse network of talented leaders within the field.


In addition to the in-person training today, the program provides ongoing support to participants in the form of scheduled phone training and a dedicated project management board for participants to interact with experts leading each of the three sessions.

In addition to prepared content, several of today’s participants volunteered to use their sites for some practical eval and application of the lesson material.

It’s always great fun when we get to use real-world website environments for this type of workshop and I’m grateful to all of the groups that volunteered. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up article after I’m back in Chicago.

Getting There Is Half The Fun

Fun Fact: instead of flying to Pittsburgh, renting a car, driving down, staying in a hotel, then reversing the process, I was curious to see if Amtrak has a station in Johnstown. As luck would have it, they do and the scheduling is ideal.

Both legs of the trip are overnight, meaning, I can leave Sunday evening and get into Johnstown with plenty of time to spare then head right back out for an overnight evening train from Johnstown to Chicago.

Even with a sleeper car, the entire trip saves Americans for the Arts and the PA Council on the Arts on related program expenses and leaves a smaller carbon footprint than if I went the more common route of air/car. #Trains #FTW

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.

Related Posts