Let Out the Banksy in You was a passive companion program to Banksy Booked @KHPCL, the theme for a number of active and passive programs to coincide with a six-week exhibit of Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat ” street art.
Banksy Booked @KHCPL made the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library (KHCPL) the first library in the world to host a Banksy.
In this passive program, we simply used primed plywood and markers to invite patrons to try their own hands at street art.
Banksy is the most famous street artist in the world, with a huge following. The four-hour opening night alone drew 1,500. Our guest books showed that we had visitors from all over the state and as far away as Denver, Colo., San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — 1,226 miles away! Watch a video  of the arrival of Banksy's "Haight Street Rat" at the library.
Banksy Booked @KHCPL made local, state, national and international news. We knew that those who traveled so far to see it would want to do more than come inside to look at the Banksy, so we created Let Out the Banksy in You as one of several passive programs for visitors. (See list of programs under "Attachments" at right.)
After brainstorming with our graphic artist about various programs to coincide with Banksy Booked @KHPCL, I decided the library should have a safe, and legal, way for visitors to try their hand at street art after being inspired by Banksy. So I purchased plywood and markers and asked our graphic artist to make a sign encouraging people to get creative.
Just having a Banksy helped draw a lot of attention to KHCPL and, therefore, I received a lot of word-of-mouth marketing for Let Out the Banksy in You and all the programs associated with the exhibit.
In addition, the programming committee decided to launch Banksy Booked @KHCPL during our city’s First Friday in order to piggyback on the Kokomo Downtown Association’s marketing of First Friday, which draws several thousand monthly. I met with the Visitor’s Bureau to market Banksy Booked @KHCPL and related programs to cities in Indiana and beyond.
That marketing led to a listing in the "Visit Indiana’s August Festivals & Events” newsletter and travelindiana.com , with an audience of at least 50,000. The Visitor's Bureau also paid for social marketing ads. I created a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram counting down the days until Banksy’s arrival, and promoted all related programs. (See list of media coverage under "Attachments" at right.)
I routinely pay for monthly radio advertising and included information about Let Out the Banksy in You in the month leading up to Banksy Booked @KHCPL and during the six weeks of the exhibit.
I also sent out press releases to all three local newspapers, which published stories and photos about it. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and several TV stations. I worked with graphics to get a sign up near the Banksy that provided the history of the “Haight Street Rat” and explained the various companion active and passive programs, including Let Out the Banksy in You.
I included information about the program in our newsletter that is mailed to 40,000 homes in our taxing district. I wrote about it in our enewsletter, which goes out to about 5,000 subscribers. Finally, I asked the graphic artist to create fliers for all three locations and our two bookmobiles.
Banksy Booked @KHCPL was added to our programming and events mid-year, so I didn’t have a budget for it. However, the library paid about $2,200 to display Banksy's "Haight Street Rat", plus fees for delivery and repacking help from a local company, which added up to about $1,500. So a total of $3,700.
For this program, I purchased four pieces of plywood, paint and markers for $182.
The graphic artist sketched our Banksy Booked @KHCPL logo rat on the plywood.
I had a safety concern. I didn’t want the wood falling over onto patrons, so I requested that the custodians secure one piece of plywood onto the stair railing on the first-floor landing and place floor protector paper underneath it. (When one piece of plywood got full, we put up another.)
I asked a volunteer to set out markers in a basket on a small table set next to it. I also requested that the graphic artist create a sign to explain that we wanted people to try their hand at street art by creating a design or tag.
Opening night, I watched as people from hours away took selfies with and studied the Banksy and an array of Banksy prints we’d purchased and displayed. When I directed them to Let Out the Banksy in You, they were so excited to take the creative, artistic energy that was buzzing around the exhibit and draw or write.
All ages found their way to Let Out the Banksy in You. I saw teens with markers right next to the elderly. It brought everyone together through art.
Considering the Banksy is valued at $1.7 million, having a piece of primed plywood nearby for a passive program costing $182 seems out of place; however, it provided an outlet for people to express themselves — which is what Banksy is all about.
Never be afraid to spend only a little money on a program; it can often have a big impact.
About This Library
Kokomo-Howard County Public Library (KHCPL) consists of three branches: Main, located on Union Street downtown; South, located on Center Road; and Russiaville, located in Russiaville, Ind.; as well as two bookmobiles that cover our entire service area. Between the three branches and two bookmobiles, we have a wide variety of programs and classes catering to very young children all the way to elderly adults. KHCPL works with local affiliates, such as the Farmers’ Market and First Fridays, as well. KHCPL always has something for everyone to come and enjoy and learn.