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Rupert Cheek(y): Helping Artists, Creatives, Performers & Arts Entrepreneurs To Build Community Through Communication, Connection, Creativity & Collaboration

I started off with ‘connect though music’. For a while I’ve been thinking “Helping people through the arts”. A longer mission which I recently adapted my tagline / pitch to “We help artists, creatives, performers & arts entrepreneurs to build community through communication, connection, creativity & collaboration.”

Tell us about yourself?

I was born. I wasn’t talking so when I was 3 or 4 I had speech therapy which didn’t help, then music therapy which allowed me to find my voice through playing piano and percussion to communicate with my therapist and started saying “hello” and “goodbye”. I had piano lessons from the age of 5 or 6, on and off with different teachers until I graduated. I had drum lessons in my teens. I accompanied singers and other musicians on the piano whilst doing my BMus and afterwards. I played drums in a few bands between c2004 – 2014. I started using social media in 2007 and enjoyed connecting with and learning about musicians, asking questions and sharing their answers – initially informally just on social media, then more formally on a blog ,

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Can I say 3 years? Then I would say ‘stop doing this rubbish collection (aka. bin-man) work now [Feb/March 2018]; don’t wait til September’. I was doing it part time (0 hours), and it wasn’t good for my mental health. I’d started in sept or Oct 2017, going in 1 day a week (Mondays).

At Christmas my mum encouraged me to go in 2 days a week so I started to go in on Mondays and Thursdays to give myself time to recover in between. By March I was really struggling mentally and didn’t want to be alive, but I kept going on Mon/Thurs. My dad was driving me to the depot. I arrived around 5am for a 5.30-6 start, waited to be told who I was going to be working with, then go wherever we went. Many times I would wait ages – 30 / 45 mins before being told or not being told anything. One morning I decided that if i hadn’t been given work by 5.45 or 6 that I would go home – and kept that up until I stopped going so I guess I still had some sense that my time was worth something, that I wasn’t being shown the respect I felt I deserved.

Some time in mid 2018, for 2 weeks I went in on Mon/Thurs, and didn’t get work – which was partly frustrating and partly a relief. This happened twice I think (i.e. 4 weeks total). One time, Dad dropped me off and left as usual; I felt so depressed I didn’t go into the depot, just walked back to the train station to come home. I started having counselling in April 2018 once a week, and she suggested it would be best for me to stop going in Sept ’18 so I did.

What problem does your business solve?

Many artists, creatives, performers and entrepreneurs struggle to communicate online through social media and email.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Many artists, creatives, performers and entrepreneurs struggle to communicate online through social media and email.

What is your magic sauce?

Chocolate sauce & proper Cornish cream vanilla ice cream!

At the moment Cheeky is just me. Curiosity, a broad range of interests, experience and knowledge including a variety of musical styles / genres, i.e. not just pop / not just classical.

My own direct and indirect (family members, friends) experience of mental health challenges.

My genuine and sincere desire to help people who are artists, creatives, performers or entrepreneurs. It’s something I can’t NOT do. We all need to be heard, seen, valued, be part of something – a community – we’re mostly social creatures, to feel that we’re having an impact on others.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

After volunteering part time (1 afternoon a week, then 2, then 3, then 4), at a charity shop for most (minus lockdowns) of the last 2 years, I’ve become more confident, social and maybe even funny.

I’ve just been offered a part time job at an after school club which I’m looking forward to starting as it will get me off Universal Credit and away from the Jobcentre and I can start supporting myself (though not having to pay rent as I’m at my Dads). I might even be able to start saving or paying for ads / marketing for Cheeky.

More engagement, more impact; a community is only as strong as its members. More Cheeky people – i.e. grow the team beyond just me. I’m still drumming up interest in a Cheeky Fest in London. I hope I can support myself completely through Cheeky endeavours by 2025.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Getting people to be active community members – to engage with other members, to share their stories, challenges, projects, questions…

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Other than persistence, still trying to figure this one out. Got any ideas? Please get in touch.

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