Details about virtual events

Since the first Coronavirus cases in Ohio were confirmed in early March, events have been canceled left and right. Everything from small gatherings and weddings, to big city festivals and major international events have all been halted due to the pandemic. 

However, it is not 100 percent doomy and gloomy while we are all in quarantine. Organizations and individuals alike have come up with alternative ways to have events virtually, to align with the social distancing guidelines that have been governed by our State leaders and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Virtual Events are not just a way to keep the masses entertained while the curve is being flattened, but virtual events have also boosted morale and raised awareness, and sometimes funds for organizations and individuals who need it the most during these times. We can’t be together physically for each other, but we have been there and shown our support virtually for each other. Businesses and local municipalities have all held meetings on Zoom since the pandemic shut down gatherings of more than ten people.

Art has moved to a virtual platform. On Social Media, mainly Facebook and YouTube, performers and starving artists whose own performances have been canceled due to the pandemic have showcased their hidden talents.

Famous musicians have put on impromptu shows from their kitchens and garages, and Late Night television shows have been entirely produced from home. Here locally, German Village-based classical theatre troupe Actors’ Theatre has moved their recurring Shakespeare Underground Series of Staged Readings to an online platform. Central Ohio actress and theatre educator Krista Lively Stauffer started a Facebook Group called Quarantine Creative Outlet, where artistic talents (both performance and visual arts) are displayed, to help keep the artistic flame alive during this pandemic.

Local musicians and artist organizations have had social distancing concerts during the pandemic. The NACHO Street Band, a band comprised of employees from Nationwide Children’s Hospital did their first Social Distancing Concert in Livingston Park, which is next to the hospital’s South Side campus. That led to the NACHO Street Band in starting a “Social Distance Tour,” where they have performed virtual shows that are, according to the band’s official Facebook Page, “a COVID-19 compliant show for a group of folks stuck at home and desperate for entertainment.”

On March 29, Joe Peppercorn performed a social distancing version of his annual Sergeant Peppercorn’s Marathon, where Peppercorn performed all 215 of songs that were recorded by The Beatles. On April 3 at 9 A.M. to celebrate 43209 Together (4/3/20 at 9 A.M.), Bexley-area residents came together to sing the Bill Withers classic song “Lean on Me” virtually. 

During the last week of April, Columbus Association for Performing Arts (CAPA) organized the ApART Together Concert Series on Facebook Live with a different local artist every night, including Happy Chichester, and Angela Perley. In the intro for the April 24 Concert featuring Nick D’Andrea, CAPA President & CEO Chad Whittington said of the CAPA Virtual Concert Series, “Even though our doors are closed, this is our way of continuing to do what we love to do, bringing the arts to you and providing a venue for the talented artists that enrich our lives and our communities.”

While the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) has canceled the 2020 Columbus Arts Festival, GCAC has been hard at work with an artist relief fund raising money for artists, who have had performances or exhibitions canceled due to the pandemic. Local musician Andy Shaw co-created COVAID Live, a Virtual Concert Series with virtual Front Porch Happy Hour performances every Tuesday and Thursday. According to the COVAID Live GoFundMe Page, Shaw “saw an opportunity to use live streaming to help others in the same situation” after holding a few live streaming events. Donations from COVAID Live will benefit the GCAC COVID-19 Artist Emergency Relief Fund.

Virtual events are now part of our new normal. “I don’t think virtual events are going anywhere. I think it will be in addition to other events,” Ramey said on his podcast The Last Gig, where he had Brad Henry as his guest that week. Henry is the founder of The Virtual Dance Party, a virtual dance party streamed live on Facebook on Saturdays during the pandemic.

“When coronavirus happened, my neighbor approached me and said that she thought that it would actually be a lot of fun to do a ‘Virtual Dance Party’,” Henry said on The Last Gig. Henry enlisted a few people, including serial Columbus entrepreneur Timothy Wolf Starr, who connected Henry with Ramey’s Westerville-based Event Company, Platinum Technical Design + Management (Platinum TDM). From there, the Virtual Dance Party got started.

Henry also founded The Big Gay Dance Party, which started in June 2018 as an alternative to Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Downtown Columbus during the Friday of Pride Weekend that year. When the pandemic hit, his neighbor came up with a spin on the event, which became the Virtual Dance Party.

Ramey will also be one of the keynote speakers of the upcoming Creative Con Virtual Conference, being held May 15 through 17, hosted by Platinum TDM, JWPR Signatures, and Chay Creates LLC.