Virtual Venues Are Replacing Physical Ones Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
"There's lots of ideas out there on how to keep people engaged and trying to think of how to do things online."
Coronavirus containment policies are closing down concert venues, cinemas and theaters across the country — but many in the industry are looking for ways to let the show go on.
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events told supporters that the city "is aggressively exploring financial support for this sector." The nonprofit group Broadway Cares has already raised more than a half-million dollars for its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
Several other fundraising efforts have been launched to help keep theaters and theater workers afloat during the closures.
Denise Maes: "There's lots of fundraising going on for theaters to try and keep them open. There's lots of ideas out there on how to keep people engaged and trying to think of how to do things online."
Denise Maes is the co-founder and co-owner of Bovine Metropolis, an improv theater in Denver. In accordance with CDC guidelines, the theater was forced to close down.
Amid the widespread uncertainty and fears, Maes told Newsy that she's also optimistic about the opportunity to innovate the industry.
Maes: "Improvisation is a tool to help people connect in real time to each other. … And you can't do that as well and as easily when you're not in the same room with somebody. And so, how do we evolve this art form, so that we can do it electronically, so that we could do it over video until the day we can get back in front of each other and be in the same room again together?"
Some improv shows and comedy venues are already experimenting with ways to perform remotely and livestream to audiences. "The Armando Diaz Experience", normally performed in Manhattan's Magnet Theater, sold around 250 tickets for its livestreamed performance, and that's more viewers than the physical theater can even accommodate.
Dustin York: "I think there's opportunities there, even for small businesses, where what can they do? I mean, even if you're a yoga instructor, can you do something where you use Skype or you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams or something like that to, even short-term, try it out, give it for free. … And then if it's effective, if your customers like it, then maybe that could be scalable for an actual business move."
Communication professor Dustin York of Maryville University in St. Louis thinks this is a move entertainment venues and live performance companies can benefit from in the long run.
York: "If you're a Coachella, how do you connect with Spotify? If you are Wehrenberg Theatres, how do you connect with YouTube and things like that? I think those opportunities and partnerships are mutually beneficial."
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