After months of being listed as a “secret location,” the venue for the Seattle “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” show — which was supposed to open in September but didn’t materialize — has finally been announced.
The show will be held at a warehouse in the Sodo neighborhood at 1750 Occidental Ave. S., with a rescheduled opening date of Oct. 19, according to Santiago Santamaría Soler, global communications lead for Fever, the show’s ticketing company. Fever’s website currently shows tickets available online through Jan. 30, 2022.
Many customers had bought tickets for what promised to be an immersive sensory experience of Vincent Van Gogh’s works as early as this spring, but they became concerned when the “secret location” failed to materialize as the first ticket dates in September drew nearer and nearer and eventually passed.
When they reached out to Fever, some were told that the show had been delayed, others were told it was canceled, and still others received no communication at all, but logged on to the Fever app to find that their tickets were canceled. Many filed complaints about Fever with the Better Business Bureau, which currently has an alert for the company on its website, warning that there is a “pattern of complaint” from consumers, and with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, which has received 167 consumer complaints.
Bill Vipond, with the Sodo arena group that represents the property where the Van Gogh show will be held, confirmed that Exhibition Hub, the show’s producer, is indeed leasing the property. After several weeks working with the Sodo arena group and resolving some permitting issues, Exhibition Hub signed the lease Wednesday, said Vipond.
Santamaría Soler said the company has a policy of not announcing the venue earlier because it does not have a physical box office out of which to serve customers.
“We are a digital company and at the first moment we didn’t want to announce the venue because we wanted to avoid people coming to the venue to ask information about the tickets,” he said. “We can do a lot of things, but [only] through our system.”
Jeff Parry, president of Annerin Productions, a partner in a competing Van Gogh show — “Beyond Van Gogh,” which opens in Portland in November — said he believes Fever’s “secret location” strategy is about competition. With at least four competing Van Gogh experiences touring the U.S. right now, selling tickets without announcing the venue, he says, allows Fever to be first to claim a market.
“We never put tickets on sale without a venue,” he said. “I’ve been a promoter for 40 years. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. You just can’t get away with it. It’s bad business. It’s not good for anybody … but if you can go in and grab the market, as you see, it prevented us from going there.”
Fever attributes the rescheduled opening date — originally in September, and then later announced as Oct. 15 — to “shipping issues due to COVID-19.”
“The date was originally Oct. 15,” Santamaría Soler acknowledged. “But we want to make sure the experience is perfect for the customers. The opening day is going to be Oct. 19.”
After the initial September dates for the show passed with no venue announcement, and after hearing different opening dates in October from customer service representatives, many ticket-holders contacted Fever for refunds, with varying success.
Santamaría Soler says Fever’s priority will be to help ticket-holders who were “affected by the delay” to reschedule their show dates or provide them with a voucher to a different show offered by Fever, but if a ticket-holder does not want either of those options, they can get a refund.
That doesn’t apply to everyone, however.
For those with tickets after the new opening date of Oct. 19, Santamaría Soler says the possibility of a refund will be evaluated “on a case-by-case basis.”