In a matter of two days, parts of the entertainment industry have been significantly carved back in their ability to reach audiences because of the rapid movement of coronavirus/COVID-19 and new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control recommending social distancing to stave off further spread of the disease. While publishing, whether books or comics (hard copies, ebooks, other digital, or online), music (except live events), and TV and movies at home (it’s still debatable whether theaters are safe spaces or not) become safe alternatives to turn to, live sporting events are out, as are most pop culture events like comic book conventions and Renaissance faires–at least for the immediate future. So this will be a time where creativity must lead the way. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Creators will need to come up with new ways to reach consumers, and the better that businesses–large or small–are able to solve novel problems and innovate quickly, the better they will be able to get through the next few (or several) months. We’ve seen two new great ideas that arrived right away worth checking out.
The first is Faire Relief 2020, a Facebook group that turned from nothing to nearly 3,000 members within its first day yesterday. You can find the group at this link (there are no requirements to join). From the group’s page: “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak a lot of events have had to be cancelled. For those who make their living doing Renaissance Faires and Festivals this can be a devastating blow. This group is to help aid those Merchants, Artists, Performers and the like by allowing them to put their Wares up for sale or sharing their contact information and Facebook pages so that people may purchase from them.” You’ll find anything and everything there, from custom wood designs, jewelry, candles and incense, food and drink, and leatherwork, to custom cosplay like chainmail and other clothing (historical and modern fashions), pottery, and even gifts and collectables like wax seals, sculpted dragons and dragon egg statues.
At the same time, Wizard Entertainment, the company behind many nationwide comic conventions, distributed a press briefing previewing its new Wizard World Virtual Experiences, an attempt to bring pop culture conventions online. For more than 20 years Wizard has produced “Wizard World” events where attendees meet celebrities, participate in Q&A panels, collect autographs and chat with their favorite celebrities, writers, and artists in gatherings at convention centers across North America. Now Wizard wants to bring that experience to fans at home.
Wizard Entertainment expects to launch its new venture later this month, with the celebrities and groups involved in the inaugural programming to be announced soon. Fans will have the ability to purchase a personal one-minute video chat, 15 or 30-second personalized video recordings, signed 8×10 photos and signed memorabilia, group chats and exclusive limited edition art. Select session dates will feature live video panels that are free for fans to view and hear, accessible through the Wizard World website (www.wizardworld.com) and other social media platforms.
“‘Wizard World Virtual Experiences’ will bring the Wizard World experience to fans across the globe, wherever they live,” said John D. Maatta, CEO, Wizard Entertainment. “We will capture the excitement of interacting one-on-one with celebrities and creators in a format that will be unique and compelling.”
Keep an eye out for more entrepreneurial ventures adapting to the social distancing guidelines, and be sure to check out your favorite writers, artists, and other creators on their personal websites.