I am an arts professional, community artist, researcher, academic, writer, art historian, curator, and critical friend.

I worked in for a large fashion company for sixteen years as a changemaker, ending up as a senior manager. Whilst doing this, I helped organise free parties and raves across the UK. These two vastly different, seemingly contradictory ways of living and being led me to becoming what I am today: strategic, tactical, systematic, and enterprising on the one hand; DIY, community-centred, creative, and utopian on the other.

I am committed to probing the edges of art, society, politics, and humanity. My starting point is that creativity is a crucial part of being human and that any attempts to curtail or control our creativity damage our lives. I try to cut through the confusing maze of cultural policy and the tightly defined limitations of art and culture because, when set free, creativity is powerful and life changing. This creativity exists everywhere and in our everyday lives because our cultures are ordinary and yet, simultaneously, extraordinary. Our cultures and cultural practices are what make us human and they are what enables us to organise, cooperate, and take mutually beneficial collective action.

My work has focused and will continue to focus on helping set free creativity in people that have been ignored and belittled for far too long. I challenge those in power to do things differently and try to lead by example – doing this differently wherever possible. I help people do what they know they need to do to make their lives meaningful and worthwhile again. I encourage people to act using their own initiative. By helping people show that they know what’s best for them and that they can take actions for their collective best interests without waiting for permission, I hope to be able to encourage more people and more communities to feel confident in following suit, and to encourage local and central government to make changes in their policies and governance models.

I focus on working-class communities, on the one hand, and the structures of power on the other, looking for little cracks in pavements where new seeds of creativity and collective action can be planted and flourish. I hope they will sometimes self-seed – that people see action happening and are drawn to join in. I try to make connections, to amplify tiny actions, to convince others to join in, and to persuade those in power to trust people more. I hope we can trust people to become involved in democratic decision-making about art and culture at as local levels as possible, wherever possible. I call for our cultures to be recognised equally. I believe that community art can educate people. I seek out better alternatives that are grounded in our shared sense of humanity.

You can find examples of some of my work in arts and culture here.

0 thoughts on “ABOUT ME

  1. Hi Stephen
    just reading through your blog as am re-working on a Literature Review on participatory performing arts and it’s great to see many of the same ideas. Not sure I agree with your analysis of my own standpoint – especially being cited as a supporter of the dominant cultural hegemony and institutions engaging in tick-box participation being ‘good practice’. Would be very surprised if that’s how most people would see me – interesting to note how the written word might be misunderstood by others.

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