The Canberra arts community grieved on Wednesday morning with the passing of Sylvie Stern, long-term arts promoter and host of 2XX’s popular Art ‘N’ Soul and Artbeat programs. Sylvie had been diagnosed with cancer and passed away in hospital.
The many tributes that came in spoke of her passion and enthusiasm, especially for young artists. Movement artist Alison McGregor said: “She always seemed genuinely interested and enthused by what you were doing. She has always been 100% supportive, even back when I was starting out and she had no reason to know or care who I was.”
Local actor Cameron Thomas described her as “very warm and generous with her time,” adding that “her door was always open and she’d give lots of support and encouragement.”
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Sylvie lived for the arts, and was determined to kindle that love in other people. This was her great strength as a radio host: it was hard not to be swayed by her enthusiasm and energy. You wanted to feel the the way she did, and often her energy was the spark that ignited interest in local creators who needed encouragement and publicity.
Her lively interviews were semi-legendary. Jordian Gardner remembered his own experience.
“You always knew you were in for an interesting conversation when you did an interview with Sylvie on 2XX. She tended to dart from one topic to the other at lightening speed, her brain seemingly working overtime. When she finally got to asking you the question at hand – she would have talked so much that all you would end up saying is ‘Yeah – you’re right Sylvie!'”
Fellow radio presenter Andrea Close had praise for her savvy journalism.
“Sylvie asked questions that others wouldn’t have thought of. She was an empathic soul who saw past the obvious to a more meaningful place,” she said.
Sylvie’s support for others went beyond her role in the arts community. In recent years she had become responsible for the care of her mother and she was also active in dog rescuing. The tributes that have poured out this week are testament to how actively she cared for others; not only in her role as a radio host but also one-on-one. She was a generous mentor always free with advice and encouragement.
It’s common to say that a place is diminished by someone’s passing, and the ACT is certainly smaller for having lost Sylvie. But it is also a much greater city because of the how she nurtured its arts community. Her legacy will only grow in time, because it lives on in the life and work of every person touched by her love and generosity. Her passing is deeply mourned; her life is equally celebrated.
(Photo credit: Facebook)