The Wash

Online events continue, despite virtual fatigue and no end in sight

Local organizations are getting more creative with virtual events. But while there’s a wide variety offered, attendance is beginning to fluctuate after nine months of virtual fatigue.

Nine months into the pandemic and after a societal-wide shift to online learning, working and living, virtual fatigue is setting in. 

Local universities, non-profit groups, museums and organizations are having to re-examine the events they’re offering to their communities and students. 

Profs and Pints, a local organization in operation since 2017, hosts in-person college-level lectures at local pubs like the Bier Baron Tavern, La Pop, the Social Circle Bistro and Church Hall, all scattered throughout D.C. 

Since the pandemic, the group has hosted online events.

Peter Schmidt, founder and C.E.O. of Profs and Pints, said that keeping the lectures going online was challenging at first, but has paid off since the pandemic shows no signs of stopping. 

“I had somebody who works in a think tank and writes about Eastern Europe and Asia and a week before we knew really how bad things were going to be in the United States he said to me, ‘No, your life is going to completely change,’” Schmidt said, in regard to learning about the pandemic. 

With that advanced warning in mind, Schmidt said he took a few months off and was able to bring back Profs and Pints virtually, now reaching audiences into the hundreds on CrowdCast.

Many of the Profs & Pints event invitations are posted on the Facebook events platform in order to reach out beyond the community and make contact with others whose interest may be peaked. (Dani Birzer/The Wash)

The National Congress of American Indians has taken to hosting several day-long virtual events to educate indigenous tribes about policy issues, allow for networking among members and celebrate their culture.

This year’s 77th annual convention and marketplace was held virtually with sessions and breakout groups with titles like “Communications for Tribal Governments” and “Northwest Tribal Nations Cultural Night.” 

Montgomery County Public Libraries has hosted events virtually since the pandemic began, with virtual reading time for kids, workshops for adults, job seeking programs, virtual crafting events, senior wellness events, Dungeons and Dragons events and more held throughout the week. 

Chevy Chase branch manager Felicity Ann Brown said their events have gone smoothly so far and have even reached international audiences. 

“In a lot of ways it’s like we’re able to offer things online that are more accessible than they have been before,” Brown said. “There’s definitely a lot of need.”

Many library events are also shared publicly on Facebook in order to gain more viewers and reach out to all community members who may not check the library’s website for event information. (Dani Birzer/The Wash)

The staff at local touring group Things To Do D.C. has seen the pandemic as an opportunity to get even more creative with their event planning, according to Greg Bland, C.E.O.

Where once the group had originally been limited to in-person tours, Bland said they are now hosting virtual trivia nights, virtual tours of locations beyond D.C., dueling piano music events, magic shows and more. 

“On the one end, keeping up with the level of financial success has been difficult and requires a lot of patience. On the other end, it’s been a lot of fun,” Bland said. “Our creativity has allowed us to do things we’ve never done before and has allowed us to get closer to our customers.”

Things To Do D.C. features a lot of local event opportunities, tourist destinations, popular restaurants and more in order to cater to visitors and locals. Both in-person and virtual events are featured on the group’s website. (Dani Birzer/The Wash)

Creativity’s effect on participation has been less clear though.

“People come and go in spurts,” Bland said. “One week participation will drop off by 50%, the next week participation will be up by 70%.” 

He added that a lot of local universities, businesses and corporations have hired the group to host private events for employees or students. 

The District remains in its holding pattern of Stage 2 of the reopening process as per Mayor Bowser’s mandate. Currently there are over 18,000 cases of coronavirus within the region with many standards yet to be reached before Stage 3 is implemented. 

Dani Birzer

25 yr old broadcast journalism grad student at AU.
Bartending and baking enthusiast.
Cat dad.

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