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Baltic Profile: Ioan Roberts – founder of Baltic Weekender & 24 Kitchen Street

Baltic Profile: Ioan Roberts – founder of Baltic Weekender & 24 Kitchen Street

The Baltic Weekender is here and the Baltic Triangle is all geared up for another amazing weekend of live music. 

We caught up with Ioan Roberts, the founder of Baltic Weekender (and the owner of one of the Baltic Triangle’s most popular venues, 24 Kitchen Street) to discuss Ioan’s personal and professional development, his experiences of working in the Baltic Triangle, the growth and success of Kitchen Street and his hopes for the future.

Back in the summer of 2013, Ioan and his colleagues bought 24 Kitchen Street with the express view of changing it into a mixed-use arts and music venue.

Ioan said: “Initially, I was quite inspired after a trip to Berlin with the use of DIY conversion of warehouse spaces into cutting edge cultural venues. We didn’t really have a plan too much; we were very much learning as we went along.”

The team came into this with no outside investment, and all the money that they have used to develop the project has come from profits that they have made.

This has enabled Ioan and his colleagues to trial and error continuously while setting up what would become an important part of the Baltic Triangle today.

Operating in an area full of community spirit

There is no denying that 24 Kitchen Street has benefited from operating in the Baltic Triangle. The venue has had help from the old industrial-use operators, and also from neighbouring creative businesses like Constellations.

For example, with some of the building work that 24 Kitchen Street has done, like acoustic engineering, they have had the advantage of using borrowed equipment and expertise from builders and mechanics in the Baltic.

Also, Constellations have used their professionalism and experience to collaborate with 24 Kitchen Street and share helpful information that benefits the organization as a whole.

“It’s just generally a nice place to work, you’re always meeting new people. When you go for a coffee it’s easy to meet people. So, yeah there’s a kind of community spirit which is nice to operate in on both a professional and a more social, personal level”.

The Baltic Weekender

 Not only has 24 Kitchen Street launched its own events with the likes of Sonic Yootha, but it has also co-promoted The Baltic Weekender with an established electronic music event called Abandoned Silence, run by Andrew Hill.

“Andrew came to us with the idea. We had already done variations of it, but because we had so much other work to do we just didn’t continue it”.

Originally, the 24 Kitchen Street team did a ‘Baltic Block Party’ with a guy who went on to found Bongo’s Bingo and therefore, they didn’t do subsequent Baltic Block Parties. They also did a garden party that wasn’t successful at Kitchen Street but was very successful in Constellations.

“It was around that time that we had a bit of an issue with a neighbouring developer where it ended up becoming a quite well-published dispute. Andrew from Abandoned Silence came to us and said ‘Come on let’s use this ground-swell of publicity and support we’ve received, let’s try something’”.

As a result, The Baltic Weekender came out of a tough situation for 24 Kitchen Street, which spawned a major event that celebrates the Baltic.

 What does the future hold for 24 Kitchen Street?

 Ioan and the rest of the team at 24 Kitchen Street want to continue to support local cultural and creative initiatives.

However, they also want to raise their profile both nationally and internationally, which will then increasingly lead them to be able to capture more prestigious talent.

“We’re always keen to see and support new talent and inevitably some of them will go on to have careers in music. So that’s something that’s quite exciting” (Ioan)

That’s not all, as Kitchen Street are going to start programming events in other venues like Constellations and Invisible Wind Factory, thus giving them something exciting to look forward to this year and next year.