Wine & Paint studio in Cary turns to virtual classes during pandemic

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The painting with a beverage concept started in Louisiana by two women who were coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now in the face of another crisis, the business model is evolving once again.

Wine & Design in Cary used to host close to 80 paint classes a month. That number as you might guess has dropped to zero. Owners, Craig and Marianne Burt foraged a new path jump-starting virtual classes.

"It's really unhealthy to spend all the quarantine time doing virtual things and not engaging the body at all," says head artist Bethany Minervino.

Marianne Burt is doing whatever she can to keep some of her staff on the payroll.

"These are ways we can get through this hard time. It's not what it used to be, but it's something," said Burt.

Along with online classes, the Burt's have a few of their artists making paint kits. It's not a lot of work but it's something during these tough times.

For Minervino, this is a new low for the 'starving artist' label.

"It's been a little bit tough, I'll be honest," Minervino said. "It's also difficult for people to reconcile the idea of buying products that are not immediately necessary like art or crafted items which is mainly what I do and what I make my living from."

"She's our lead artist and I worry about her being able to pay her rent and buy her food and be able to pay for her health insurance," Marianne said.

Flipping a switch to the digital world isn't as easy as it sounds and at this point, it can't make up for the loss of physical classes, private lessons and things like birthday parties.

"Right now we're still at the growing pains of figuring it all out and how to present it," Craig Burt said.

Minervino knew this adaptation was coming before the coronavirus.

"I've always thought that we should be going digital and virtual just to get ahead of the curve. It would be good for people with disabilities. It would be good for people with health concerns."

In two previous recessions, Marianne and Craig lost businesses. "We know we're going to come out of this okay. It will just be different. I don't know what that new norm is going to look like."

Now seasoned re-inventors they hope a virtual puppy portrait can help bridge the gap.
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