Van Gogh Alive proves summer hit in Brighton

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Brighton has given the immersive Van Gogh Alive exhibition exactly the response organisers were hoping for.

For Greg Talbot, head of events for Active Sport and Entertainment Ltd, it’s an event which has completely transformed his company in recent years. Greg and the team brought Van Gogh Alive to Birmingham for its UK premiere in August 2020. Other venues in the UK followed, with now Brighton the latest, and everyone is delighted with the way it has been received (until September 10).

“It has gone very well,” Greg says. “We're very pleased both with the numbers of people that we've had through the doors and also the reactions that we've had from people, just the way that the visitors have responded. We definitely had very high hopes and we had a really good on sale and that has continued since we opened. Brighton audiences seem to be really keen for this kind of event, and all those high hopes that we had are certainly tracking very much in line with our expectations now, if not slightly ahead. Now we’ve got the summer holidays and that's good for a number of reasons. It's a very family friendly event, and it is a really great daytime thing to do with families and equally as we know Brighton tends to get a lot of inwards tourism over the summer, people coming there from all over.

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“And the Van Gogh Alive exhibition is a very good fit. We've been working with the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival for a long time in the lead-up and we've been very lucky to share that journey that they had with the redevelopment of the venue. They've done a wonderful job with that space and we are delighted that it just lends itself really well to this event. That room in particular for the digital gallery is just the ideal space.”

Van Gogh Alive has been delighting the crowds in Brighton (contributed pic)​Van Gogh Alive has been delighting the crowds in Brighton (contributed pic)​
Van Gogh Alive has been delighting the crowds in Brighton (contributed pic)​

There was a rather scary moment right at the beginning when the whole exhibition had to be delayed for a week just to get all aspects of health and safety signed off: “It was a high risk to be ready in time given the extensiveness of the work and it was just a shame that it was so late in the day (that the delay was announced). Having to react at the last minute wasn’t ideal but whatever you're doing the health and safety of everyone is absolutely paramount. So obviously it wasn’t what we would have wished for, but all the right decisions were made and in the grand scheme of things it was only a week's delay. And fortunately we were able to extend. The show was ready in the venue. It was more to do with the behind-the-scenes infrastructure there not being quite where it needed to be in terms of emergency evacuation and obviously that was the main concern but once we had the sign-off we were ready to go. In the end everything was good. This is now our sixth event and our team have got it down to a fine art for the gallery set-up and it's really great to see the response that we are getting at lots of different levels. Obviously Van Gogh Alive is not just a visual experience. There's a very powerful story that we tell as well, about Van Gogh’s mental health struggles. And there's also a really powerful evocative soundtrack that we have. It's very much a sensory story with the scents and there are also the quotes – nearly 150 years ago now but they are still incredibly relevant.”