“How are you Stuart?”
Stuart is the busiest person I know. His full-time job is with Exeter Council for Volunteer Services (CVS), but he somehow manages to squeeze in time to be an artist, an activist, a designer, a curator and a rather funky swing DJ. With his distinctive rockabilly haircut (it is Stuart – I’ve google-imaged it), he’s one of those people who you sort of recognise from walking round town. And then, when you get to speaking to him, your conversation is as a though you’ve a shared history going back years.
Stuart first became involved in the Bike Shed plastering the toilets. Three years later, with the decor starting to peel, he redesigned them, including creating a plastic-dinosaur-encrusted mirror. In addition to this, he DJs every third Saturday and runs a free cinema evening on the first Tuesday of every month. Outside the Bike Shed, his NOSE (Not Open Studios Exeter) Festival is a boundary-stretching experience, showcasing work in the city that rubs cheekily against the watercolour-quaintness of our cathedral city. He’s one of the movers and shakers behind Phonic FM’s Culture in Review, a radio show that probes and celebrates the developing creative scene in Exeter.
Beyond all of this though, Stuart epitomises the word “supporter”. In the arts, we’re often surrounded by those who come to events because they feel they have to, or that they should. With Stuart, whose values so clearly drive his actions, you feel that he is only there because he truly wants to be there. And he is often there, seeing shows, talking deeply on the state of the world and dancing late into the night.
Actually, there’s a more apt word than “supporter”. It is “champion”.