It was a long 2020 for business owners, but the tough stretch has led to a shot of creativity that could bleed into 2021.

As many are forced to take their content online, the future of virtual content seems to be secure long after the pandemic is done.

Businesses have already set their sights on how to mix virtual and in-person experiences, capitalizing on a trend that was growing before COVID-19 hit the country.

“It’s something that we’d like to continue to do,” chef J.P. Gerritsen told CTV News. “The actual digital part of it will pay off in the long term.”

Gerritsen works at Calgary’s ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen. He’s been hosting cooking classes online and has been chopping and dicing for a new audience over the last few months.

“We can reach up to 200 people anywhere on the planet,” Gerritsen said. “And there is an international audience now that we didn’t used to have.”

That international audience has also been tuning in to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

The music has been virtual in 2020, and has included socially distanced players and a new technical setup Janet Bwititi says she couldn’t imagine in February.

But the show had to go on and the Phil has seen it continue in a big way.

“At this point in time, we know everyone needs music in their lives,” Bwititi said. “We want to connect with the community. Pivoting into the online world, we’ve been able to reach so many more people we wouldn’t wouldn’t typically come to one of our concerts.”

Obviously, the financial side of the shows hasn’t been helped by the push online. But there is a wide belief that the money spent on new camera gear and production crews will eventually even out when in-person concerts start once again.

Bwititi hopes some people who may not have been previously interested in the Phil can watch online and become fans, eventually heading downtown when they’re allowed to sit in on a show.