So Banksy’s latest art project has been grabbing the headlines in recent weeks as Dismaland opened up in a disused lido in Weston-super-Mare.

Dismaland is snarky nod at theme parks, family days out and billed as ‘the UK’s most disappointing new attraction’.

It’s a seriously depressing place where stewards are told to grimace at customers and the souvenir gift shop sells ‘I am an imbecile’ balloons and t-shirts emblazoned with the word ‘DISMAL‘

Apparently – they are selling like hot cakes.

Camera-shy Banksy described how he modelled the bemusement park on those failed Christmas car parks that pop up every year in December – where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray pain fake snow on a skip.

Funny thing is – it’s actually a massive success in terms of press coverage and ticket sales – the booking site crashing is not part of the experience.

It runs until late September and is playing host to more than 50 world leading artists exhibiting their work ranging from a pickled unicorn (Damien Hurst) to a decimated Cinderella castle.

It is a virtual sell out and a critical success.

The quote about ‘popping up every year’ did get me thinking about what a Dismaland version of the exhibition industry would look like.

It’s pretty easy to imagine….

  • Bland ‘must attend’ marketing
  • Unsegmented generic emails
  • Endless registration form with legacy questions
  • Shoddy shell scheme
  • …and royal blue carpets

You get the picture and it would be easy to paint a Dismaland exhibitor as well…

  • Leaflet-thrusting
  • Phone-staring
  • Grey suit-wearing
  • Monotone-questioning
  • Uninformed-staffing
  • Objective-lacking

Both of these lists wouldn’t be too far away from how many people view exhibitions.

So how do we get these Dismaland exhibitors to be sell-out artists that are bigger than the show itself?

It’s easier than you think and it’s copied from Banksy himself.

Banksy created Dismaland by inviting 60 hand-picked artists to exhibit and only two turned down his offer.

He knew that if he had a core of respected artists in place and on his side the event would build itself.

Before he signed them up, he told the artists about his plans for the theme park and then handed control over to them.

He empowered them to create the infrastructure from staffing and security right through to the floorplan and the concessions.

Each artist bought into the theme and knew that their area and exhibit would need to enhance the offering of the bigger picture.

Surely this is how we need to engage with exhibitors? And doesn’t it sound more appealing than a blanket email buckling under the weight of deadline riddled HTML code?

I think so.

Imagine an exhibition where exhibitors are empowered to participate beyond their sqm purchase and add to the exhibition to make it complete and consistent in its experience…

It can be done – even if it just popped up once a year….

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Jim heads up Exhibitor Smarts, which is a specialist exhibitor agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to maximise exhibitor revenue.

If you want more information about the Exhibitor Smarts please visit our website at www.exhibitorsmarts.com

For exhibiting tips and chats follow Exhibitor Smarts on twitter:  @exhibitorsmarts

Image thanks to Byrion – Cheers!

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