How They Do: Perspectives in DIY Venues around the Country

by | May 27, 2010 | POLITICS

222 Ormsby is one of Pittsburgh’s most successful DIY venues. The house, which used to be a convenience store, has done hundreds of successful shows over the past two and a half years. They don’t operate with an ABC license, but drinking is allowed at shows, and they are on a first name basis with most of the areas police officers, who support what they do. It wasn’t always this way.

222 Ormsby is one of Pittsburgh’s most successful DIY venues. The house, which used to be a convenience store, has done hundreds of successful shows over the past two and a half years. They don’t operate with an ABC license, but drinking is allowed at shows, and they are on a first name basis with most of the areas police officers, who support what they do. It wasn’t always this way.

When the space started, owner Karim Akacem used the bottom floor for band practices and large parties. Over time, increased police pressure helped Karim realize that Ormsby couldn’t sustain itself as strictly a party house. They talked with the police about their plans to turn the building into a DIY venue, and ever since these talks the venue has a strict 21+ section where people can drink. The venue itself remains all ages. This, along with other efforts taken by Karim and his roommate Max, ensure that the venue can exist within a residential community without getting on bad terms with the neighbors. “We try to be respectful of the sound ordinance and be done by 10:00, 10:30 at the latest.” Measures like this lead to good community relationships, which in turn lead to a successful venue. Community respect lays the foundation. “All the neighbors are cool with us. They come over and come to the shows. That helps a lot.

The house averages eight or nine shows a month, with varying attendance, but a solid core of regular attendees makes shows possible even in slow seasons. And the fact that Karim owns the house cuts down on costs, so all of the money goes to the bands. Even poorly attended shows can get a band $50, which is usually enough for a tank of gas to the next town. “We’re not bringing bands to try to make money off them. I have no financial interest in the show.

222 Ormsby has firmly established itself in Pittsburgh’s music community, and plans to continue hosting shows. “It’s getting to the point where, being around long enough, and enough bands have gone through, bands are coming to Pittsburgh and realizing we’re actually here. For the first year or so it was us going out to try and get our favorite bands to play.

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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