Thursday, February 22, 2024

What’s Gogh-ing on?: Beyond Van Gogh opens in Surrey with no plan for Victoria

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Victoria’s Beyond Van Gogh timeline is beginning to become a long and sordid story of let down and hopelessness. 

When the event was initially announced, Greater Victoria and many throughout Vancouver Island were buzzing with excitement to see the famed larger-than-life works of art come to our corner of the world. 

Then the setbacks began and the parent company’s transparency was lost while they floundered to regain confidence in their customers, all the while falsely advertising their show on bus shelter ads throughout the city as well as on their own website. 

Some wheels have been set back in motion to get the Victoria show on track, but many wonder if it will ever happen.

Beyond Van Gogh Victoria timeline:

  • February 2022 
    • Beyond Van Gogh announces that it will be coming to Victoria with no specific dates yet.
  • June 2022 
    • Beyond Van Gogh announces that their exhibit will be taking place at Bayview Place in Vic West, beginning on October 14th, 2022, with tickets going on sale in late June. 
  • October 14th, 2022 
    • Some confused customers arrive at Bayview Place to see the show they’ve been anticipating for months to an empty lot and no Beyond Van Gogh
    • No word of delay had been sent to these customers and customers struggled to find anyone who knew what was going on with the show
    • Beyond Van Gogh’s website and social media all falsely indicate at this point that the show is on and nothing is out of sorts
  • November 9th, 2022 
    • Initially, the exhibit had been delayed 28 days with a postponed opening date of November 11th
    • As that that date drew closer, Victoria Buzz reached out to the public relations firm representing Beyond Van Gogh who said that the show would be pushed to November 25th
    • At this point, the exhibit’s website and social media al still show that the show is happening, but the comments section is filled with disgruntled customers all looking for a response as to when they’ll receive a refund
    • Tickets were still being sold for a show that had been delayed over 40 days 
  • November 18th, 2022
    • The show is officially postponed a third time, this time indefinitely
    • Beyond Van Gogh’s parent company, Paquin Entertainment Group, hire a crisis public relations company to represent them to members of the media
    • Ticket sales are disabled on their website
    • Information from the City of Victoria revealed that Beyond Van Gogh had not yet applied for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to use the space at Bayview Place — this is the first step of many to attain a permit for city land use
    • Beyond Van Gogh’s social media continues to indicate the show is on
  • January 5th, 2023
    • City of Victoria Staff inform Victoria Buzz that Beyond Van Gogh filed for a TUP for the Bayview Place venue on November 21st 
    • Bus shelter ads and a massive billboard on the Pat Bay Highway can be seen advertising the exhibit that never was

All of these events bring us up to the present, February 1st, 2023. 

Related:

Beyond Van Gogh began its journey through the process of getting their application for Bayview Place approved as of late November, but has yet to see the fruits of this small labour because the application has many more hoops to jump through.

The application still hasn’t gone before city council who are the next in line to give Beyond Van Gogh the stamp of approval. Following council’s approval, the permit has to go for an opportunity for public comment, which takes even longer.

Beyond Van Gogh’s website hasn’t been updated to indicate that tickets are no longer available until they have their permit approved — it still shows in large font, “On sale now!” under exhibit details.

They have added a new tool to their website though. 

There is now a chatbot named Sam who will help people interested in receiving a refund by saying:

“We appreciate your patience! We are still looking forward to bringing Beyond Van Gogh to Victoria and will continue to work diligently to make that happen.”

“As soon as the new dates are confirmed we will reach out with instructions for rescheduling your current tickets. All tickets will be eligible for rescheduling. Of course no fees will be applied to any tickets affected by the postponement for the first reschedule.”

“If you would like to receive a refund please send an email to hello@vangoghvictoria.com from the email address associated with the purchase. While doing so please include your ticket order confirmation number. We will be happy to process your refund!”

On the streets of Victoria, signs in bus shelters indicate the show is currently happening. One upset customer turned to Beyond Van Gogh’s Instagram — which still posts multiple times a week — to share their personal experience.

“Oh this is timely…. I saw your bus shelter ad in downtown Victoria today. It says to come and see the show.”

“Pretending that it is actually happening right now!? How much money are you spending on false advertising that could be better spent on finding an actual venue?” 

“I was one of those people who was so excited to see that this show would be here. And now a full year later I am sad and bitter. I will continue to warn people away from buying tickets until you can finally provide us with a true opening date and venue.”

Beyond Van Gogh replied with a similar message to that of Sam the Chatbot. A copied and pasted assurance that the Beyond Van Gogh team is working on it.

Meanwhile in Surrey, Beyond Van Gogh has opened its exhibition, which was to be their next stop following the Victoria show. 

No setbacks have been made public in the exhibit that opened on Wednesday February 1st, in Surrey.

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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