Even when the pandemic subsides and events again take place, few expect revenues to match those of the “before times” until 2022 or even 2023, Mr. Fiscus said. It will take time for corporate and personal clients to feel secure scheduling a big event, in part depending on vaccination rates and because of lingering unease over large gatherings.
Additionally, corporate clients have “realized this year that they can retain a lot of profit by not doing events, so we need to stay diverse and continue to innovate,” Mr. Starkey said.
And while many corporate, and some individual, clients have paid it forward by rescheduling for 2021 or even 2022, future bookings cannot replace revenue from canceled parties. “There is a huge waiting game for us in the entertainment industry,” Mr. Fiscus said. “And the longer the pandemic goes on, the more tenuous it gets.”
In the interim, while the entertainers expressed personal sadness as well as concern for the contractors they cannot currently employ, they are trying to stay both engaged and optimistic. Mr. Martin volunteers regularly delivering food, gets corporate volunteers involved with communities in need and works with a social service agency, “almost for free,” to plan parties for older adults. “The bright side,” he said, is that “instead of worrying about my business, I focus on others, like seniors who can’t get out of their houses.”
And Mr. Starkey has delivered food to frontline workers and has become something of a viral sensation, posting videos of him dancing with his daughters, one of which got close to 14 million views on his Facebook page. He works with his co-founders, Nicole Marsh and Rikki Mor. Ms. Mor said she regularly checked in with the musicians and D.J.s they relied on, because many were struggling, if not financially, then emotionally.
For many, the biggest loss is one of professional and personal fulfillment. “I miss working,” Ms. Wrubel said. “What I didn’t realize until it was completely gone, is how much joy it gave me to being around people who are laughing and dancing.”