Opera, jazz nights, musical shows, and theatre nights are all affairs that adorned the weekends during the weekend before the coronavirus hit the world massively. Thanks to the life-altering global crisis, many sectors lost business, and the live entertainment industry is no different. Ask the people working at a creative events agency about it, and they’ll tell you how there were no live gatherings for two years. Safe to say, live events were absent from the entertainment scene for a while.
However, after two painfully long years and mass immunisations, things are much better. Social activities have resumed, concerts are being held, and corporate affairs are happening, among many others. While that’s good news for the most part, there is another side to the picture. After getting used to the concept of virtual events, many people now prefer to be part of large crowds virtually. That begs the question of the future of live events and whether entities will be willing to hire an event production agency to organise a live performance.
Before we get into the prospects of live events, let’s look at the popularity of virtual gatherings to understand their impact on social get-togethers.
Virtual Events: The New Normal, But For How Long?
When the pandemic resulted in nationwide lockdowns worldwide, it put a damper on many pre-planned affairs. Many musicians had to postpone their tours to comply with the World Health Organization’s guidelines. They hoped they wouldn’t have to wait long, but little did they know that live concerts would have to last 2 whole years.
Because of the seemingly unending ban on social gatherings, artists and performers had to look for other ways to showcase their talents. That’s where the virtual sphere became the ray of sunshine audiences and stars were waiting for. Producers got in touch with the lads at a renowned creative events agency to plan online concerts. A nod to that is Dua Lipa’s December 2020 online concert, which broke records by attracting an audience of 5 million.
Similarly, the South Korean septet BTS opted for digital performances after cancelling their Map of the Soul world tour in 2020. And the list goes on. After a while, fans became accustomed to online concerts, which now impede live events from going to their former glory.
As per the Economic and Social Research Council-funded report from Middlesex University London, people now enjoy staying in to watch live shows.
Moreover, according to the Live Streaming Music Report, 90% of stars and 92% of audiences said live streaming is better for engaging people.
All in all, it’s safe to say that virtual events are here to stay. If you are in an event production agency, keep all the tech tools in your pocket to hold online affairs.
Other Events That the Pandemic Affected
Showbiz is not the only that had to suffer because of the coronavirus in terms of planning gatherings. Every social get-together was hit, forcing people and corporations to hold online affairs.
For this reason, many corporate event planners had to change their business models. Seminars, workshops, meetings and all workplace-related meet-ups became digital. So did weddings, Mass, family dinners, and all other celebrations.
However, the good news is that all these functions are now happening in actual venues without people physically present. In other words, corporate event planners and other such agencies are back at work.
What Happens Next?
While it may seem that events can go live with the coronavirus under control, it’s not that simple. Experts believe many variables need to be factored into in organising live events.
Institutions are researching if live events and gatherings can resume as they were pre-pandemic.
The Loughborough University in England leads a study program to analyse if venues can be made safe enough for all social activities. Places like the Wembley Stadium, the O2 Arena, and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield are the samples for the study.
According to Professor Malcolm Cook of Loughborough University,
“Getting our lives back to some sense of regularity following the pandemic is a huge challenge, and doing it in a safe and measured way even more so.
The work we are doing will help get these events and venues back up and running safely, providing scientifically proven information and advice on ventilation and building management to reduce the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19, and other viruses, as much as possible.”
The coronavirus crisis was so massive that researchers are still shaken up and don’t think reverting to a pre-pandemic lifestyle will be easy. Hence, live events may never be treated as commonplace as they were once.
The Hybrid Model
Since there is still a long way to go when we enjoy live performances or go clubbing without fear, a live-virtual combo seems to be the new normal of gatherings.
Interestingly, though, small scale gatherings have become in-person, so the hope is that the trend goes towards large-scale and global events.
In the words of Financial Times’ representative, Orson Francescone
“What we’re seeing is b-to-b events come back first, it follows the back-to-the-office trend, and big, international events will be the last to come back. How they will come back is still very complex.”
That means that the hybrid model is the way forward in the meanwhile. Until the venues become COVID proof with better ventilation, a mix of physical and digital functions will remain.
The good thing about such events is the lower cost and widespread reach. With no space restrictions in the physical environment, you can include as many people as possible without adding much to the expenses.
The renowned media holding company Group Nine’s Lindsay Leaf believes so as well as she stated,
“There is tremendous value in hybrid events, including greater outreach and impact at a lower cost.”
Nobody knows what will become of live events ten years from now. However, the present scenario rather clearly indicates that hybrid gatherings will serve as a medium for events for at least some time.