Making Space With Orlaith Ross


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Orlaith outside of Dublin's new WigWam café and nightclub

We caught up with OFFSET Events Manager Orlaith Ross to hear all about her side project, Making Space. Founded by Orlaith in 2014 Making Spaces has been doing 'exactly what i says on the tin.'

Making Space been reusing spaces across Dublin's city centre for a couple years now but how did such an undertaking come about?

I started Making Space just over two years ago. I had been working as the events officer at Christ Church Cathedral but was looking for something to do in my spare time that was a bit more creative. My background is in the visual arts, completing my Masters in Arts Management and Cultural Policy in UCD, so I thought I could use these skills to create something new for Dublin. I enlisted the help of my friends to produce four pop-up residencies, over four weeks, in a new cafe in the centre of Dublin. It was so popular that I was invited to produce another four week programme at the Library Project, Temple Bar. Making Space grew quickly from there.

Over the past two years, Making Space has grown from strength to strength, as a creative engagement agency which works on events focusing on the experience. The aim is to inspire and encourage creative exploration through the curation of interdisciplinary events, from tours and walks exploring lesser known-Dublin, to talks exploring design, music in unusual places and to exhibitions outdoors or off the beaten track.

Before Making Space began did you feel there was a gapping whole it needed to fill or what was the inspiration?

In my experience, often times, creatives steer away from business and commercial opportunities and can often miss out as a result. Businesses can also struggle to connect and communicate with creatives, resulting in poor brief or lacklustre events. Frustrated and inspired by this, Making Space aims to provide a service for creatives to promote their work, through exhibitions, events and social media. By showcasing and promoting artists, Making Space has developed mutually beneficial relationships with a number of creatives and businesses. Making Space also connects companies, communities and individuals to cultural activities, including tours of the city and pop-up events.

You’ve worked with some amazing talents, both local and international, what draws them to your projects or how do you go about recruiting them?

Making Space has always prided itself on creating engaging events which are both personal and professional. As it is just me behind the name, I am very selective on the types of work I do and the projects I work on. As a result, it is safe to say that each event is very high quality, with good traction, innovative ideas and an engaged audience which appeals to the talent that I work with.

I’ve worked some really talented creatives both in Ireland and abroad, from local home-grown talent, like Fatti Burke, Steve McCarthy and the Project Twins to creatives like Hato Press. I tried to keep my eye on emerging talent by attending the degree shows each and Instagram and twitter help in finding new creatives making waves. I am also a pretty good hustler and convincing people to get onboard while chatting over a pint helps, which seems to be a very Irish thing.

Out of all the unique spaces you have hosted events in, what got the greatest surprise reaction from your guests? You must be constantly on the hunt for new spaces to transform, where is next on your hit list or where have you always wanted to reinvent?

What is nice about Making Space is the fact it doesn’t have a home and so it gets to pop-up at all types of places, usually before anyone else has. One of the first large scale events, I hosted was in the main area of the Powerscourt Centre. A late night party for over 800 guests in a building like that was unheard of at the time but we managed to pull it off with a bit of help from some great Djs, including my good friend Arveene. Other spaces like the RHA for the inaugural, Blue Moon Lost Wednesday event really generated some positive feedback and refreshed interest in the RHA as an organisation and the space itself.

I am always on the hunt for new locations and have a few places on my list which include CHQ, a very special car park near Grand Canal Dock and possibly a very interesting outdoor space in 2016. Having worked on a new food pop-up at a old petrol station in Shoreditch London last summer, I would love to bring a taste of that back to Dublin for 2016.

Reinventing a venue is sometimes not about changing its identity but enhancing it. The likes of Drop Everything on Inis Oírr is really inspirational for getting a group of people together, in an out of the way place and providing a platform to showcase both in the area and contemporary culture. If Dublin could perhaps take a leaf out of their book and revitalise the IFSC/Point area of Dublin, that would be very exciting in my opinion.

Do you have plans for Making Space to grow beyond Dublin in the future?

With a number of projects in the pipeline for 2016, working directly with OFFSET, I think we will be Dublin based for the next while but never say never. In 2015, Making Space worked on projects in Dublin, Australia, the UK and the US, however Dublin is where I am most comfortable. As the economic climate changes here in Ireland, it is important to keep driving forward the creative industries agenda here at home and I feel that alongside organisations like the IDI, OFFSET and Happenings, Making Space can really make a really difference.

What do you suggest for people who have a great idea but just need that final push?

I think the opportunities for individuals with great ideas are endless these days both in Dublin and in Ireland as a whole, with lots of great support available from everyone including Enterprise Ireland, DCCOI and AIB, to name just a few. Audiences are crying out for innovative ideas and we are certainly moving towards a more experience economy where the focus is not just on the people but on the experiences they have. No matter what the idea is, I think my top pieces of advice would be -to talk to people and learn about your audience inside out -to write things down and don’t be afraid to change or challenge your own idea -to never be afraid to fail.

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