WITH most large-scale gatherings on hold for the foreseeable future, the dearth of live events is already taking a psychological toll, not only on those in the industry but on society at large.
The economy’s reliance on live events has been growing for years. When Disneyland opened in 1955, it sparked a boom in the theme park business. When the record business faltered, concerts became the profit centers for musical acts.
As live sports became lucrative television properties, leagues like the W.N.B.A. and Major League Soccer were born, expensive stadiums with state-of-the-art amenities were built and the sheer number of games grew.
Many magazine publishers found that hosting conferences was more profitable, and lately, escape rooms and pop-up experiences like the Color Factory and Candytopia have proliferated.
Even the boom in restaurants was about atmospherics as much as it was about food. Starbucks succeeded by creating not a place outside the home and office where people wanted to linger.
“Human contact is really what our business is built on,” said Roland Swenson, CEO of South by Southwest, the music, film and technology festival in Austin, Texas, which was canceled in March. “If that is lost, then the world will be a poorer place.”
Yet it turns out that an economy that depends on gathering is especially vulnerable to disruption by a virus. In the last two months, movie theaters, sports venues and the vast majority of tourist attractions remain closed, and many may not open for months.