Scottish entrepreneur launches virtual events venue for actors, musicians, magicians and comics

A Scottish businesswoman has launched a new virtual venue to help actors, musicians and comics fill the void created by the curbs on live entertainment during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Brian Ferguson
Monday, 12th October 2020, 1:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 9:23 am
Close-up magician Katherine Rhodes is one of the first acts to sign up to SocialEyes.
Close-up magician Katherine Rhodes is one of the first acts to sign up to SocialEyes.

The online equivalent of house concerts, cabaret shows, backstage meet-and-greets and masterclasses will be offered via “SocialEyes,” which will be run from Glasgow.

it is aimed at allowing groups of friends or relatives to create their own special events with a well-known performer of artists that they can enjoy from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Everything from live podcasts, vocal coaching, quizzes, celebrity party hosts or DJs, and even cookery classes will be on offer. The new concept, which will see audiences numbers pegged at a maximum of 50, is being described as “entertainment turned outside-in”

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The creation of SocialEyes has been led by events, marketing and PR guru Lee Beattie, in partnership with two other events professionals, Gillian Lamont and Ollie Adams.

Under the new concept, which sees all events take place live on Zoom, a percentage of ticket sales will be shared between events charities, with each host choosing the recipient to benefit from their event.

Among the first acts to sign up to SocialEyes are singer-songwriter Horse McDonald, the comics Josie Long and Matt King, actress and singer Heather Peace, magician Katherine Rhodes, Eastenders star Patsy Palmer and musical theatre favourite Cassidy Janson.

Beattie, who has been involved in the events and entertainment industries for more than 20 years, has worked on marketing and PR campaigns for T in the Park, Tennent’s Lager, Magners and Edinburgh Gin.

Olivier nominee Cassidy Janson will be staging her own virtual masterclasses on SocialEyes.

She said: “Live events – whether that’s theatre, music, festivals, comedy, dance –bring joy and sparkle to our lives, create memories with our friends and give us ways to celebrate.

"The last six months have been difficult for the industry as well as people across the country who have swapped their normal, quality entertainment for family quizzes hosted by their uncle.

"We began to wonder if there might still be a better way to hang out with friends and family online.

“We’re launching SocialEyes to essentially turn entertainment outside in.

Lee Beattie is the co-founder of the new virtual venue.

"We know online entertainment cannot fully replace the magic of real life, but we need something better to put in our calendars right now.

"And there’s no reason they can’t co-exist nicely even when things do stabilise.

“But for now, we’ll be working with talent to develop innovative experiences that you can enjoy with friends and family across the country.”

Horse McDonald said: “I’m excited to be part of SocialEyes because we’ve sorely needed a ‘new model’ to let us connect with and to perform for our audiences. There will only be so many ‘screens’ for every show so it makes each one special.

Eastenders star Patsy Palmer can be booked to DJ at a virtual party, or for a bakery demonstration or mindfulness meditation workshop.

"We lost an entire full band UK tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of my first album and I was absolutely gutted."

Heather Peace, whose screen roles include Waterloo Rd and Lip Service, said: “I had a whole tour for my new album rescheduled and as we don’t really know when life will return to normal it’s important that we find new ways of working.

"This felt like a fun new way to still be able to entertain people. I like that it’s interactive and intimate which means fans will have a really unique experience.”

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Comic Matt King, star of Peep Show, Skins, Dogface and Spirited, is among the first comics to sign up to SocialEyes.

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