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ISSUE Project Room

Drupal-based website reboot for performing arts nonprofit aimed to overcome tech limitations and improve security and operation

Five Jars worked closely with ISSUE Project Room to launch a new website on Drupal. Our team performed multiple tech audits, developed a comprehensive migration plan, and executed the migration of all the content, assets, and user profiles from the old Drupal-7-based site. We also transferred its hosting to a new provider and ensured a smooth transition and vast technical upgrade without any performance interruptions for the website visitors and administrators.

Expanding the boundaries of artistic practice

Founded in 2003, ISSUE Project Room is a Brooklyn-based performance nonprofit that serves as a cultural incubator. It facilitates the commission and premiere of innovative new works across music, dance, literature, and film genres. The organization plays a crucial role in NYC’s cultural ecosystem, presents a diverse array of artists, and stimulates critical dialogue in the broader community.

The ISSUE’s website is the organization’s core instrument in engaging with multiple audiences, curating and sharing content, announcing and organizing events, and more. The site brings together artists, art curators, volunteers, donors, and media in a united mission – to help cutting-edge experimental music and performance continue to thrive in NYC and beyond.

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Project goals and objectives

With Drupal 7 approaching the end of maintenance, updates, and security support, the organization initiated the CMS update and was looking for a technical partner to ensure a smooth transition. After evaluating a range of Drupal migration experts, their portfolio, and industry focus, the ISSUE Project Room team approached Five Jars as a certified Drupal development agency for a tie-up.

The initial request from the client was to:

  • Update ISSUE's CMS to the latest Drupal version
  • Migrate all content and maintain front-end design
  • Troubleshoot and test the new website
  • Simplify content management experience

Besides, it is worth mentioning that migration to the latest Drupal version is not merely a technical upgrade but a strategic undertaking and an investment that will remain sound for years to come.

Discovery phase and migration plan

To kick off the site migration, we performed a series of audits that helped us identify interdependencies, possible bottlenecks, and conflicts, as well as evaluate and mitigate the potential risks. The analysis our team performed included the following parameters:

  • Content types and taxonomy of the structures 
  • The structure of user accounts, roles, and permissions
  • The contrib modules used and their compatibility with the new Drupal version
  • The codebase of the custom theme and modules 

We prepared data mapping and developed a detailed migration plan for the custom code and logic based on the audits. As the new CMS version did not support some of the modules used, we either offered their alternatives or collaborated closely with the ISSUE Project Room team to define functionality requirements and provide custom solutions for each specific case.

Issue project room website

Website migration in progress

Through technical audits and discovery, we paved the way for a seamless migration process that included the following steps:

  • Installing the latest Drupal version and all the required contrib modules
  • Creation of all the required content types
  • Migration of user accounts and roles
  • Transferring media, content types, and content
  • Rebuilding of views and blocks
  • Migration of custom code and custom theme with required libraries and templates

During this phase, we also migrated the site to the new hosting provider as the old one was incompatible with the new Drupal version and had a number of issues we wanted to fix. We also significantly reduced the number of modules used, which helped to simplify the website’s structure and improve its overall performance.


Uptime during  migration


Content elements migrated


Faster website performance

Improved E-commerce experience

Our team also identified that the UberCart module integrated into the old website was not used extensively and didn't provide significant value for the organization. We recommended removing it and replacing it with an external service. The challenge with this approach was finding an extension that could provide the same functionality as UberCart while ensuring a seamless and secure purchasing experience for the ISSUE Project Room visitors.

The solution our engineers offered involved integrating the external service into the website and ensuring that it was configured correctly and worked as expected. As with the other newly integrated functionality or updates, we provided training to the client team on using the new system and managing orders and payments.

Issue project room website

Streamlined website administration

While upgrading the website's CMS, our team had the tech capacity to integrate and configure Layout Builder, which allowed the creation of visual layouts for displaying the information. Content of every type started with a default layout and default components. Web admins could customize how content was arranged on a single page across the website, as well as create custom landing pages with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.


A library of easy-to-use content components to build engaging content


In-depth documentation and training for the ISSUE Project Room


Ability to update site content and structure without requiring a web developer

Compared to the previous content management flows, this approach was much simpler and straightforward while ensuring diversity and coherence.

Transparency and effective communication

Through our collaboration with the ISSUE Project Room team, we were able to maintain a high level of clarity and effective communication. Our team was always open to suggestions and feedback and adjusted our processes accordingly. 

We met with the client systematically during the weekly meetings and always kept them up-to-date with our progress. All the important project documentation was added to Basecamp, which helped every project member and stakeholders track all the critical information.

Outcomes achieved

Our approach to helping the ISSUE Project Room team achieve its website upgrading goals focused tightly on optimization: improving the website architecture, reducing the number of modules needed, simplifying migration and rollout, and streamlining the content creators’ experience.

A solid Drupal-powered site
The efficient migration resulted in a more modern website with a clean, accessible, and user-friendly experience and the latest functionality.
Comprehensive technical optimization
All website components and parameters were significantly improved, including security, performance, scalability, and stability.
Simplified content management
With a library of components, administrators can use a mix-and-match style and create pages that look differentiated, appealing, and consistent.

The new site now empowers the ISSUE Project Room team to nurture a creative, trustworthy, and approachable digital presence that reaches all of the organization’s target audiences – from artists and curators to direct visitors and sponsors.

*Lead image credits: 2024 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Katie Porter, "Malosma/18 Flowers in a Row," February 17, 2024. Photography by Cameron Kelly McLeod.


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Amir (AJ) Elkamel

Strategic Business & Solutions Specialist