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Delayed Beyond Van Gogh exhibit leaves ticketholders in the cold

Producers say immersive art exhibit will go forward in Victoria with new opening date to be announced soon.

A high-profile interactive art installation featuring the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh remains in limbo following several postponements and complaints from ticketholders who say organizers have been largely uncommunicative.

Canada’s Paquin Entertainment Group is scheduled to bring Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience to Bayview Place in Victoria this month. The three-dimensional exhibit, which is housed in a purpose-built temporary structure close to an acre in size, is slated for 15 days of operation between Nov. 25 and Dec. 11.

The event was originally scheduled to open Oct. 14 and run through Dec. 31, but the launch was postponed due to logistical issues, and the run was shortened. Many ticketholders have said they were given little to no advance warning, resulting in lost deposits for hotel bookings and travel.

Cheryl Pardue of Victoria planned to take in the event on Wednesday with her daughter, with tickets purchased well over a month ago. They arrived at Bayview Place in Vic West to find an empty lot where the structure housing digital iterations of more than 300 famous works by Van Gogh was to be located.

“The integrity of this group is clearly in the toilet,” Pardue said. “They don’t seem to give a rip.”

Bayview developer Ken Mariash said his staff have fielded many questions and concerns, but he doesn’t know what else to say at this point.

“The tent is on site, and the show is on the site. Everything is there [but unassembled],” Mariash said. “They could put it up in two or three days, but they don’t have a permit.”

Producers appear to have not yet been issued a temporary-use permit, which is required by the City of Victoria for the event to proceed on the site.

“We’ve been very clear with the organizers what permit is required and to date have not received the correct application,” City of Victoria spokeperson Colleen Mycroft said in a statement to the Times Colonist.

”Once received, we will be pleased to work with the applicant to move it through the process.”

Event producer Justin Paquin said that while administrative and permitting details pertaining to the event “need one final round of review,” he is working closely with the City of Victoria to resolve all outstanding matters.

There have been extensive complaints leveled online against Paquin Entertainment Group for its lack of transparency, especially where delays are concerned. The company said ticketholders were notified “two or three times” about postponements.

“No,” Pardue said flatly. “Definitely not. I never even got one response.”

Beyond Van Gogh doesn’t appear to have had problems elsewhere. The event’s official website, vangoghvictoria.com, links to beyondvangogh.com and other immersive events in Canada, the United States and South America that Paquin Entertainment group appears to have successfully produced.

“Over the past two years, our team has installed exhibits in over 50 cities across seven countries and we look forward to opening Beyond Van Gogh in the City of Victoria,” Paquin said in a statement to the Times Colonist.

A new opening date will soon be announced, he added.

Tickets can be exchanged or refunded by e-mailing hello@vangoghvictoria.com.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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