This isn’t a great time to be a performer.
As magician and motivational speaker Scott Dietrich noted, “As COVID-19 hit, my magic business disappeared faster than you can say Abracadabra.”
The pandemic hit just around March Break. Dietrich had 17 shows booked over the break, at libraries, March Break Camps, and daycares – not to mention the birthday party magic shows, scheduled on weekends.
All that came to a screeching halt, with the imposition of limits on the size of gatherings and instructions to practice social distancing.
Dietrich, with a young family, suddenly saw his income vanish.
Fortunately, he was able to find a creative solution, by going virtual.
“I’ve always believed it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” Dietrich explained - so he “retooled” his acts, updated his website, and introduced a new “100 percent quarantine-friendly” Virtual Birthday Party Magic Show.
It’s typical that, even more than the loss of business, Dietrich was worried about the impact on kids of the isolation and the fear generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s a lot of fear out there. I think kids are feeling it double,” he said. Connecting online – with the 30-minute virtual magic show, as well as a children’s empowerment show “The Magic In You” for ages eight to 12, a virtual magic class “for all the little Hogwarts fans out there,” and a virtual balloon sculpting class – can provide a safe way to bring kids and families together.
It’s important to social distance, be aware and wash hands frequently, Dietrich noted. “It’s also important to fill your soul, to stay positive, stay happy - and magic is a great way to do that!”
Since introducing the online shows Dietrich, who was voted the GTA's "Best Children’s Entertainer” by City Parent Magazine for eight years running, has already booked five Virtual Birthday Party Magic Shows, four in the U.S. and one in Canada.
The Birthday Party show, designed for kids ages five to 12, uses the power of ZOOM and the internet to create an interactive experience for the children and their families.
One of the shows last weekend celebrated the sixth birthday of a child whose family is trapped in New York City, under quarantine.
Twenty families in all ended up watching the show together and participating through ZOOM, at their own homes.
“They hadn’t seen each other since school,” said Dietrich, a fact that gave the party even more importance, and turned it into a truly memorable event. “They’re trying to do their best to keep their children’s lives fun.”
Sadly, one of the casualties of the pandemic is the monthly birthday party that he and wife Denise Garrido brought to Blue Door Shelters. Unfortunately, there is just no way to hold the parties and still meet social distancing requirements, so they have been cancelled for now, “and that’s a real bummer.”
But other opportunities have come up. Dietrich has been contacted by the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library to offer his “Magic in You” motivational reading and magic class online, for example.
“Every program I do focuses on empowering children,” said Dietrich - using the power of magic to inspire. Magic is difficult, magic is hard to master, and when kids learn a magic trick, he said, they ask themselves, “If you can accomplish this, what else can you accomplish?”
He has a similar message for entrepreneurs, hit hard by the pandemic.
“Hard times, that’s when I get most creative,” Dietrich said. In 2010, “a really rough year” for the entertainer, Dietrich created his in-school motivational program, School Heroes Unite.
“There are always opportunities,” he said, quoting Tony Robbins: “If you ask a better question, you get a better answer.” He urged businesses to ask themselves, “How can I meet the needs of my community right now?... There are opportunities out there.”
Like using the magic of the internet to bring joy and magic to kids.
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