Riding the wave of its record-breaking run of Immersive Van Gogh at Camp North End, Blumenthal Performing Arts wants to open a new and larger arts center as a “creative hub.” The new venue will feature large-scale performances, exhibitions, entertainment and community events, according to the Blumenthal.

It will also provide training and support for new education initiatives centered around emerging technology. “It’s a really an exploding professional niche with opportunities for education to create careers and economic mobility,” Blumenthal CEO Tom Gabbard told The Charlotte Observer last month. 

The Immersive Van Gogh presentation closed in January 2022 at the Ford Building in Camp North End, with a record 1,600 performances and more than 300,000 tickets sold during its half-year run. The 360-degree digital show projected Van Gogh moving masterpieces onto walls from floor to ceiling in a large space set to music.

The Blumenthal is looking for existing buildings – 25,000 to 40,000 square feet – or vacant land with a central location easily accessible to highways, mass transit and parking. Even before “Immersive Van Gogh” ended its run, Blumenthal was searching for space for a permanent site for other innovative and creative exhibits, Gabbard said. The exhibit was extended three times because of its popularity.

“It really proved to us that there was an appetite for this,” Gabbard said. “But we also saw that there was potential for lots of transformational change in Charlotte by creating opportunities for an educational program and explore an innovative niche.”

Plans for a new arts center 

Blumenthal is considering retrofitting a building, or pursuing building a semi-permanent, movable space similar to Troubadour Theatres in London, Gabbard said. It’s an innovative way to get the height requirements needed for tall walls and be obstruction free of columns that block people’s views, he said. It also can be set up relatively quickly on vacant land. A cost for the project has not yet been set, although Gabbard said the Blumenthal project will be paid for through partner and community contributions.

And Blumenthal already has more than $2 million worth of digital equipment and furniture it bought for “Immersive Van Gogh” in storage “waiting to be reused in a new space,” Gabbard said. That includes 103 digital projectors, 22 servers, 19 miles of fiber optics and a lot of furniture, he said. “This represents the future in the arts and the opportunity for us to create a way for people to explore that as a ticket buyer or as a creative,” Gabbard said. The Blumenthal also is looking for public input to find a spot for the planned immersive arts and entertainment building, and asking for people’s input on its website. 
This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer. It has been edited for space limitations.

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