The Dismaland effect
The centre of the contemporary art universe remains Weston-super-Mare until 27 September as people continue to flock to the town to see Dismaland – the latest curated creation of world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy.
“It has really put the spotlight on the town and attracted visitors from around the world,” said Cllr Felicity Baker, North Somerset Council’s executive member whose portfolio includes tourism.
“We have had global publicity with the world’s media descending on the resort to find out about the exhibition, but also asking us about the benefits to the area. Some of those benefits are obvious: increased footfall with an immediate economic benefit to local businesses which we have estimated to be around £7m; and publicity for North Somerset which we could never have paid for.”
Cllr Baker added that some of the other benefits may take a little longer to be realised.
“We are having discussions with different organisations about a lasting legacy for this fantastic exhibition. It has also been an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and let them know what the town and area has to offer. We want to attract investment to help us with our ambitious plans for the development of the town.”
Organisers have confirmed Dismaland will shut on Sunday 27 September and the decommissioning process will begin the next day and is expected to take three weeks.
“We always knew the exhibition would only be on for a matter of weeks – our task now is to make sure that as well as living long in the memory we have a lasting legacy.”
Weston Town Centre Manager, Steve Townsend, added: “The profile of the town has gone through the roof as a result of all the publicity and buzz on social media around Dismaland. Some out-of-town food retailers are reporting a 40% increase in business while some of the high street shops are saying their business has gone up by 10%.
“We have launched our arts trail as a direct result of Dismaland and there has already been a lot of interest in it.”
Cllr Baker confirmed that the council is already in discussions with other people in the arts and culture industry about whether there is the potential to host other events and exhibitions at the Tropicana in the future.