Within a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has rearranged the local nightlife and entertainment industry to what some argue is a point of no return. For the time being, most cultural events will take place virtually, with the most visually appealing and unique functions garnering the most attention.
For social entrepreneur and former D.C.-area nightlife promoter Nels Cephas, such conditions have allowed him, through his company DC Now Events, to support local event curators in this transition, and boost their appeal among patrons of various ages, ethnicities, and interests who want to have a good time from the comfort and safety of their home.
“Forty percent of people are choosing not to go out. Their choice is based on the many steps to go out, and the fear of getting coronavirus,” said Cephas, now in his fourth year as founder of DC Now Events, a platform through which tens of thousands of people in the D.C. metropolitan area have been able to learn about socially conscious, family friendly events.
In the six months since the pandemic started, Cephas, a Silver Spring, Md. resident from Liberia, has facilitated the donation of $2,500 to causes of importance to DC Now Events supporters and allowed small businesses to promote their products during the DC Now Events Small Biz Takeover.
One of those entities, Kids Fashion Week DMV, launched an action-packed virtual production, hosted by Ashley Darby of The Real Housewives of the Potomac, that Cephas said attracted a bevy of viewers, including local parents and young adults unaware of the nonprofit that enriches aspiring models, designers, photographers and producers.
“Our community and audience are seeking information to enhance what they do. That’s where virtual events play a big role,” Cephas told The Informer.
“Event curators, and creatives, who curate virtual events still want their message and brand out there. When it comes to events, and social causes that are not relegated to just entertainment. It’s about having access to information and how you choose to be informed.”
In the early days of the pandemic, corporations like Google and Facebook had either canceled their marquee in-person conferences, or made the transition to the virtual world.
As usage of videoconferencing platforms over the last few months have significantly increased, providers like Zoom have lifted streaming restrictions to accommodate patrons in the business and entertainment community that are embracing the possibilities of live streaming events and conferences.
DC Now Events’ embrace of the virtual realm comes amid efforts to expand its reach to the Philadelphia area this fall and launch an internship program next year for college students and young adults pursuing careers in sales, public relations, graphic design, communications, and other aspects involved in building a corporation.
Earlier this month, patrons who visited DC Now Events on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn learned more about an organization highlighting missing Black girls, and received information about a safe family and friends gatherings that took place at the Kennedy Center in Northwest and Annapolis. DC Now Events also highlighted an upcoming Polo and Jazz benefit scheduled for late September.
For Auntea Marie, co-founder and executive director of Kids Fashion Week DMV, a collaboration with DC Now Events made perfect sense, especially when COVID-19 interrupted plans for an in-person event.
That highly anticipated function, originally scheduled for mid-April, would’ve followed the Purple Gala that Kids Fashion Week DMV co-hosted with DC Now Events at the Smithsonian Institute last year. The duo would instead collaborate on a virtual show geared toward young people in the D.C. metropolitan area between 6 and 16 that aired earlier this summer to critical acclaim.
“The commitment level of DC Now Events is top notch. You sit down with a lot of partners and they come up with terms, but DC Now Events went beyond our terms,” Marie told The Informer as she explained DC Now Events’ promotion of Kids Fashion Week DMV, including the design of attractive Instagram flyers.
“I appreciate that communication and brainstorming, and the forward thinking they have when it comes to advertising to a digital audience,” Marie added.
“Kids Fashion Week DMV is my baby, so to work with someone who treats it the same makes me want to work with them forever.”