Fractured Atlas Acquires Gemini SBS, Plans Wide Release for Artful.ly

7/31/13Follow @jpruth

When nonprofit Fractured Atlas in New York acquired software developer Gemini SBS, also of New York, it brought in-house the talent to create more platforms to help the arts community be more efficient. The deal, announced on Monday, comes as Fractured Atlas readies the wide release of Artful.ly, its cloud-based business management software for individual artists and organizations. Getting the arts scene to modernize through technology can be tough, says Fractured Atlas founder and executive director Adam Huttler, in part because few options have been available for this niche.

Huttler’s organization provides several software platforms that nonprofit arts groups can use to manage their operations. It works with some 28,000 members who include individuals such as independent documentary filmmakers and performance artists as well as groups such as the New York City Opera. “We help them raise money, we help them get insurance; we help them sell tickets, track their payments, rent space,” he says. Inspiration and creativity may be essential to the arts yet the sector also hungers for tools for management and planning, Huttler says.

The addition of Gemini, which also has offices in Denver and Portland, means Fractured Atlas can offer more developer expertise to the community. The Gemini team is already versed in the needs of this sector, says Huttler. The software developer specialized in custom applications for arts, education, and government entities such as Opera America and the U.S. Department of Education.

Huttler says the Gemini team’s knowledge will be especially useful as Fractured Atlas aims to help small arts groups that lack deep expertise in technology. One of the challenges such organizations face, he says, is figuring out which software best suits their needs.

“You’ve got enterprise systems that are old and have a lot of legacy junk in them,” he says. “Most of the folks in the field patch things together with Excel, PayPal, and a million other pieces.” Such jury-rigged platforms might not work very well nor share data effectively, Huttler says. Fractured Atlas provides software tailored to this community’s needs and expects to offer more services through its acquisition.

Prior to the deal, Gemini worked on Fractured Atlas’s software platforms Spaces, an online market to rent space for rehearsals and performances, and Archipelago, which offers a visual representation that shows where art is being exhibited, compares the facilities being used, and displays other information for market analysis. Looking for ways to deepen the relationship, Huttler says it became clear that absorbing Gemini was the best option.

Eventually the Gemini brand will be phased out, though Fractured Atlas intends to continue its software development consulting practice. Huttler believes such services pair well with the other work his organization does. “We’re seen by a lot of people in the arts and culture field as the go-to people for technology insight,” he says.

That expertise has been at work on the beta version of Artful.ly, which is already being used by about 1,000 organizations, he says, with a full release due by October. The software helps arts groups sell tickets, track fans, and raise money online. In the future, Huttler wants to connect the platform to crowdfunding sites but for now organizations that use Artful.ly can create JavaScript widgets on their websites to take electronic donations.

Fractured Atlas has a separate fundraising program that does integrate with RocketHub and Indiegogo but Huttler says that Artful.ly—once such features are ready—will give them more information on supporters from those sources. Such content is typically managed and owned by the crowdfuding sites, he says, and therefore hard to access. “We’re looking at how we can connect them to Artful.ly so when someone contributes through a crowdfunding site you’ve automatically got their information in your database,” he says. That could help artists to build long-term relationships with their patrons, Huttler says.

These plans to put technology to work for the arts stem from Huttler’s own experience within the community. Huttler founded Fractured Atlas, then known as Fractured Atlas Productions, in 1998 as a performing arts production company. “We started kind of as a vehicle for producing my work as a theatre director,” he says. “That did not last very long.”

The company evolved to produce the work of other artists but would pivot drastically in the wake of disaster. Huttler says his biggest, most expensive show opened on Sept. 7, 2001 and was situated close enough to Ground Zero in New York to force its closure for two weeks out of a five-week run. “We ended the run with $60,000 in credit card debt,” he says, “which I was personally liable for.” The company’s annual budget at the time was $40,000 so the board made the decision to close up shop and find a way to get the debt off Huttler’s back. He came up with a plan to provide services through technology in a scalable way to the arts community.

Fractured Atlas unveiled its current strategy in 2002 and has since dwarfed other providers working in the arts scene. “The next largest arts service organization in New York has about 700 members,” Huttler says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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