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 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 20 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, and love a good coffee drink.

Download my bio and promotional photos at my publicly accessible press kit.

Press Kit

Business Philosophy

There has never been a better time to be in the business.

Debt, shrinking audiences, and rising expenses. These are the issues which plague too many of today’s orchestras, small and large. For many organizations, these are the issues which consume their day to day work efforts and distract the institutional stakeholders. In light of such seemingly overwhelming forces, many organizations are reverting to drastic stopgap measures in order to slow the decline; however, there are almost always other options. The arts have always been – and continue to be – a remarkably viable product capable of making a strong connection with audiences. Unfortunately, a great deal of media attention throughout the nation has declared that the arts are less and less relevant and there’s simply no longer any demand for what arts organizations deliver.

Fortunately, this prognosis couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For a variety of reasons, many organizations have been the victim of inefficient and stagnant business practices. They spend a great deal of time and resources identifying external forces as the root of their problems, when in fact, they should be spending those same resources toward the sincere challenge of examining internal forces. As tensions increase artists, managers, and board members have been engaged in increasingly hostile battles over the solutions to their mutual problems. With every new conflict, a partisan mentality increases and organizations move farther away from discovering their win-win solutions. I maintain a distinctive philosophy which is founded in the confidence that the win-win scenario is always obtainable. As such, I am well suited to help move organizations away from these slowly destructive cycles and identify options which unite organizations toward their individual goals. Leadership, vision, and a dedication to core competencies lie at the heart of future success. I can help your organization realize its potential and become cultural leaders in your community.

Online Media Group

Since starting my first culture blog in 2003, my related activity in that field has expanded to include several culture publishing networks where I serve as Editor-in-Chief and/or webmaster.

The Adaptistration Network

  • Adaptistration Blog: founded in 2003, Adaptistration has become the definitive go-to culture blog for the entire orchestra field with thousands of daily visitors.
  • Adaptistration Store provides a way for readers to leave tips as well as provides access to downloadable IRS 990 files with enhanced content for more than 70 professional US orchestras.
  • Who’s Minding The Score? is a cartoon about orchestra life takes a satirical look at the insanity that is orchestra management. The cartoon ran from 2010-2013.
  • Take A Friend To The Orchestra resource site provides access to dozens of articles written by critics, bloggers, musicians, classical music enthusiasts, and administrators about how average patrons throughout the country can invite friends who don’t regularly participate in live music events.

Visit Adaptistration


“Practical tips, tricks, and pointers for getting things done as an arts manager.”

ArtsHacker is the result of good old fashioned necessity; up until the time of its launch, the field of nonprofit performing arts administration has been 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, forget the conceptual stuff, people just need to get stuff done.

As a result, ArtsHacker is designed to fill this void by providing high quality nuts-and-bolts oriented content from a broad cross section of contributors; each with unique skills sets, experience, and areas of expertise.

Visit ArtsHacker

Arts Admin Jobs

A jobs board focusing on positions within the arts administration field.  Job listings are free for employers to post and completely free for job seekers to browse and apply.

Visit Arts Admin Jobs

Inside The Arts, a cultural blogging exchange

Founded in November, 2007 Inside The Arts is your gateway to a behind-the-scenes look into the world of performing arts. Here you’ll find a clearinghouse of the latest articles from some of the most insightful and diverse group of professionals who make their living immersed in the world of performing arts. Includes: Adaptistration, Butts In The Seats, Neo CLassical, Who’s your Audience?, Scanning the Dial, Double Bass Blog, and Brian Dickie’s Opera Blog.

Visit Inside The Arts