Classics always find their way into the future—whether through a radio station spinning oldies side-by-side with the new stuff, social media trends sampling dialogue, exhibitions re-contextualizing work, or the simple act of an older generation passing on the love of an artist. Sadly, after a solid run of bringing the iconic works of Van Gogh to life for a whole new generation of art lovers, Lighthouse Immersive, the company behind the endeavour, is going bankrupt.
Lighthouse Immersive is the Toronto-based production company that spearheaded the trend of immersive art exhibits, a blending of artists’ visuals with music and technology for a unique experience of classic works. Over the years they’ve created immersive experiences for the works of Frida Kahlo, Disney Animation, and famed Montréal playwright Robert Lepage. Their works have been presented globally with “Lighthouse Artspaces” across North America garnering millions of tickets sold over the last few years.
The pandemic drove individuals out en masse to catch these innovative exhibits at a time when outings for the arts were few and far between. But with interest waning alongside the strictures of the pandemic, the company seems to have overreached in its plans, landing the owners with a $16.6 million debt to a California partner. The company has stated that this declaration of bankruptcy will not affect business in Canada, its Toronto base still clearly the flagship for the company.
Lighthouse Immersive will be downsizing to a quarter of its size come September. This news can easily be seen as the fading out of an art world trend, one that is exiting as quickly as it entered. While it’s heartening to know that Canadian operations will still be proceeding, it does beg the question of whether the interest is still there to support immersive exhibitions.