Social activations

 MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon Adds To Guest Lineup, Expands Reach

Don Cheadle, Common, Cindy Crawford, Whitney Cummings, Stephen Curry, Zachary Levi and Kelly Rowland were a part of the lineup for the the MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon, the two-hour special hosted by Hart that reimagines the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual variety show fundraiser.

The special streams live on Hart’s LOL Network and its digital platforms YouTube and Pluto TV as well as on TikTok, Triller and Twitch. SiriusXM aired an encore of the show on its Laugh Out Loud Radio channel.

The telethon will feature entertainment, comedy, musical performances and MDA’s Let’s Play For a Cure gaming elements, a gaming stream hosted by Zedd running simultaneously. A Telethon Showcase to celebrate the members of the neuromuscular community and hosted by Nancy O’Dell and Jann Carl will follow the two-hour main show. It will stream on the MDA’s Facebook page.

As a warmup, an MDA-hosted online auction on CharityBuzz featuring items from Serena Williams and Curry.

The talent additions to the lineup include Garcelle Beauvais, Aloe Blacc, Jack Black, Usain Bolt, Bryan Cranston, Adam Devine, Fat Joe, Josh Gad, Liz Gillies, Aldis Hodge, Edwin Hodge, Michael B. Jordan, DJ Khaled, Daniel Levy, Loni Love, Leslie Mann, Jillian Mercado, Robin Thicke, Gabrielle Union Wade and John David Washington.

- Deadline

 Royal Opera House Embraces Immersive Virtual Reality Tech

Before England’s second lockdown, London’s Royal Opera House (ROH) had planned its first virtual reality (VR) opera. As cultural brands and institutions grapple with the ever-changing pandemic entertainment landscape, tech can provide a socially distant lifeline for showcases and events.

The opera, called Current, Rising, is billed as the ROH’s first “hyper-reality opera” and relies on VR technology to provide an immersive, multisensory experience. The narrative is inspired by the liberation of Ariel at the finale of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, guiding the audience through dreamlike landscapes. When staged, audience members will be encouraged to walk around the stage in VR headsets, becoming active participants in the opera narrative. The 15-minute show is a collaboration between the ROH’s tech exploration department Audience Labs, digital media production company Figment Productions and soprano Anna Dennis.


Due to England’s current lockdown, the event has been postponed from its original November dates. As VR technology (especially headsets) become more affordable, we anticipate an expansion of cultural experiences specifically designed to be enjoyed in the comfort of consumers’ own homes. The challenge for cultural institutions will be the need to create a feeling of exclusivity and indulgence typical of in-venue events for at-home experiences. 

- The Times

Digital Events: Best Practices for Generating Connection & Smaller Spaces

Several speakers noted the problematic absence of human interaction and crowd energy at virtual events. To compensate, expect a move toward premium tools for more intimate, smaller-group co-viewing options and ‘spontaneous social’ event environments where formerly IRL concepts are simulated within virtual social gaming-esque spaces.

  • Creating Tiered Event Experiences: For vast, global virtual conferences there is a key opportunity to add premium, personalised digital experiences. IBM’s annual business tech event Think Digital, which typically draws 20-30,000 amassed over 170,000 unique visitors from 163 countries for 2020’s free online version, said IBM programme director Erin McElroy. She said such events will be monetised in future via premier experiences such as access to behind-paywall insights or chat opportunities with high-level executives. These would be tailored to defined audiences (for instance, by job role or interest).

  • Mega-Events at Human Scale: Consumer viewing-party platforms like Scener and Teleparty – which let people watch favourite shows together virtually – will inspire ways to make “large moments more palatable” for desk-bound digital delegates, suggested Turner.

  • Replicating Social Gaming Spaces: To break participants out of chat windows and into “spaces that tell a story,” Turner expects to see adoption of platforms inspired by Second Life (the original virtual world social gaming platform) such as Echo from US experiential-tech firm Event Farm. Its digital meeting environments incorporate presenter tools and attendee avatars.

  • For a more "phygital" experience, new platform Topia combines a virtual environment with a Zoom-style chat. It places simple user avatars in a minimalist landscape, and as other avatars approach, each person’s minimized video chat screen fades in. The software was coupled with Microsoft’s AltspaceVR for this year’s Burning Man in September, a virtual reality event (accessed through VR headsets) titled Multiverse. These tools are “filling that need for crowds. You’ll literally be able to bump into each other,” said Turner. - Stylus

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