Interview: Sadhbh Warren on Cultural Events in Ireland

Alexandra Pedro

Written by Alexandra Pedro

29 Oct 2021

6-minute read

I first met Sadhbh Warren as a fellow marketer. However, it quickly became apparent to me that we had many other mutual interests. One of them is culture and how it can be fostered by social events. We both live in Ireland and urban outdoor spaces here are not taken advantage of to the same degree as they are in, for example, Portugal. Sadhbh wants to change that. Ready to find out how?

ALEXANDRA: Hi, Sadhbh! Let's dive right in. From previous conversations, I reckon you agree that Ireland could do a better job of bringing people together outdoors. Why do you think it does not do that already?

SADHBH: There’s a few factors but a big one is blaming the weather. Specifically the idea that Irish weather always terrible (it’s not, if Melbourne and Seattle can manage it, so can we!) and that Irish people generally won’t attend outdoor events because of it.

This has a knock-on effect in a lack of prioritisation for locating and funding social spaces, and for the building and maintenance of facilities like toilets, drinking water, accessibility access etc in those spaces. We don't see ourselves as an outdoor society and that's reflected in the spaces that we make for sharing in our cities. And it’s hard to have a vibrant schedule of outdoor events without suitable spaces and supports for running them.

I think there’s a lazy assumption that pubs can fulfill every social need and no one wants to go outdoors but outdoorsy-types with their specialist gear. But, when pubs closed due to COVID restrictions, we saw that Irish people will happily head outside for something interesting. We’ve seen crowds of people take to the streets in Cork in the last year – from dining on newly pedestrianised roads and taking in art installations like the skeleton boat off Shandon, to the less-wanted behaviours like crowds on Kennedy Quay necking pints and using the area as a toilet! So the interest is there, and we need to look at appropriate ways to harness that.

A: You have already mentioned some options, but where would you like to see investment go to maximise the use of outdoor spaces in Ireland?

S: Failte Ireland have some great initiatives and funding available - lots of the outdoor dining areas popping up recently are one example of where their budget goes. I'd like to see that funding continued and expanded, as well as local councils supported to spend money building and maintaining public amenities, like toilets, seating and accessibility.

There's no shortage of passionate people and great ideas in Ireland, so I'd love to put them all in (virtual) room or conference to brainstorm the exciting outdoor future we could have.

A: It is indeed an exciting future that you describe. What can the average person and business do to make it a reality?

S: Be curious about new ideas and share events with people who might like them! The best publicity an event can get is word of mouth - someone you know inviting you along to something new.

If you like something, as well as telling people who would also like it, keep an eye on the venue and the organisers because there's probably more where that came from.

For small businesses, inviting art and culture in the door can be as easy as popping up a poster on a noticeboard. For larger ones, in-kind sponsorship is often a great way to get your name in front of new clients.

A: What are some events and initiatives you want to shout out, both in Ireland and overseas?

S: I’m a bit Cork-focused right now; it’s my hometown and we have fantastically supportive city and county councils here as well as fantastic venues and networks. I’d love to bring something like White Night to Cork, which is an all-night arts festival held in many cities worldwide including Melbourne, Montreal and Paris. I love to add comedy to things, I think there’s definitely space for a regular food truck/comedy/band night in Cork. I feel Cork could host its own specialist event like Kilkenomics but perhaps focused on food or music given Cork’s appetite for both.

Initiatives I’d like to shout out include the National Disability Authority for accessibility guides and the Ada Initiative for their anti-harassment and Code of Conduct resources. Both provide simple practical guidelines to make events more inclusive, accessible and safe, ensuring that everyone can attend and enjoy cultural events.

A: You do event management as part of your business Content & Event. Could you tell us more about what you do and how you can help people looking into hosting a cultural event in Ireland?

S: I’m a qualified project manager who loves the challenge of turning interesting idea into amazing events. Events ARE communications, they are content. Not sure if your idea can work and who it would work with? Talk to me. I can plan and execute events that make sure your message is consistent and gets across in all the right ways.

I have years of experience planning and managing events, corporate and cultural - I specialize in creating policies as well as content, such as Codes of Conduct and Social Media crisis response plans. I’m a one-stop solution if you need someone to be completely on top of and ahead of everything – and I genuinely love events, so you know I’ll always be looking for ways to make it even better! I love the challenge of bringing things to life and delighting everyone involved.

Alexandra Pedro

Alexandra is a business owner, marketer and creative based in Ireland. She founded Alexandra Pedro Marketing in 2018. Her purpose is to farther the arts and culture industry through both her services and her free resources.