Making room for creativity and art — Operating creative spaces in Singapore (Part II)

An interview with Edgar Lim.

Edgar & his wife, Florence back in the days of running room2f (2018–2020). Photo courtesy of Edgar Lim.

With the experience of operating a few creative spaces and concepts such as CrazyWorld Cafe and room2f, Roomier co-founder Edgar Lim shared his highs and lows in these ventures in Part I of this two-part interview.

In Part II of the interview, he shares some lessons learnt in operating creative spaces in Singapore and his aspirations for an ideal creative space.

Q: With your previous ventures, you have been in contact with many of the artists and musicians in the local creative industry for many years. What have you learnt about being a creative in Singapore through your interactions with them and from your own personal experience?

A: As we mainly dealt with physical places, what we discover is they need a space, a physical outlet to present their craft, whether it is a music showcase or photo exhibition.

Our forte is in creating a niche and small platform where intimate interactions can be encouraged, so we typically “catch” them during their early years of creative development. As such, we often listen to their inspirations, dreams, things they want to achieve. It is enriching for us to be a part of that process.

During these early stages (1st time on stage, 1st concert, 1st art/photo exhibition), they often need spaces which will accept them for who they are, and we feel that we are rather accommodating to that.

In CrazyWorld Cafe and room2f, we hosted many new and upcoming creatives to showcase their work. We might not get any recognition for that, however for us, what matters more is that we sought to provide a enabling space, and we achieved what we set out to do.

Q: What would you say are the top five lessons you have learnt from operating event spaces in Singapore?

A: Nothing ever goes as planned and this is even more so for events. Expect many things to go wrong, and always be prepared.

Customers may not always know what they need or want and it is up to us to utilise our experience to actively make recommendations.

A neutral space that does not judge or discriminate between religions, beliefs, values and cultures is key.

Be a good listener and be open minded to special requests.

Selecting a venue in a good location, with amenities such as nearby F&B outlets, extensive transport options, availability of parking, lifts and toilets. Because these are important items on the checklist before a customer decides whether to use our venue.

Q: If money and resources were not an issue, what would be the ideal type of space you would like to set up? What kind of audience(s) would you like to reach out to?

A: A centrally located space with ample parking, close to public transport, a stone throw away from eateries, and plenty of sunlight. A gathering space for people to work, gather.

It will be a space where we can have a corner designated for F&B popups (coffee kiosk for one week, ice cream kiosk for the next).

A craft market popup area for artists and crafters to sell their wares.

A small stage with proper audio equipment for open mics, small performances (music, theatre, plays)

There will be a lifestyle magazine library, titles updated every month. Common use facilities are mass appeal, quiet board games/card games.

The ideal mood is quiet. People are strongly not encouraged to speak loudly.

There are many “loud” places out there, we hope to create one which people can quiet down, have deep conversations, and relax their minds. While doing so, be mindful of other people in the space.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article, you can read Part I of the interview here.

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