<b>1. Joan tell us about your background and who are you?</b> <br></br> What a question! I was born into the unique circumstance of being the daughter of two sitting politicians. My father died when I was very young. My mother is a farmer who was also active in political life throughout my upbringing. I was educated and socialised “uptown” but through my mother’s work was very aware of all the other realities of Jamaica. I also moved around a lot when I was younger, for a variety of reasons. By the time I returned to Jamaica in 2008, I had lived in Grenada, Canada, Trinidad and Australia and so was exposed to a variety of cultures. These experiences shaped the formation and pilot projects of Nanook in a big way. The last eight years I’ve played a variety of roles but in essence I am a cultural curator, connector and fixer. I am an artist, attorney and activist. I am also in a fairly constant state of change. I am really curious about how we interact with each other as people. I enjoy conceptualising and imple-menting projects that bring different people and places together. I like my own company and I’m a pretty private person. But I like learning from really listening to people, and attending LIVE music performances in particular - so I’m a contradiction! :) I love reading and making music or art. I am blessed with a few close friends/chosen family collected over my travels and currently residing all over the globe and in my heart. <br></br> <b>2. What are you passionate about? </b> <br></br> I am passionate about appreciating life. In an abstract sense I think life is about experiences and have always lived mine exploring and getting involved in my various interests. In a more specific sense I am passionate about being a part of the effort to help my country appreciate and grow from its cultural legacy. I am equally passionate about facilitating ethical cultural exchange activities. I think focusing on appreciating who we are as a people and making solid international exchanges are the keys to a more positive social and economic reality. <br></br> <b>3. Where did your love for creative expression begin? </b> <br></br> My mother had me in dance class and piano lessons (both less than successful pursuits :)), and took me to plays and other cultural events as a child. She also really encouraged my reading and creative writing from an early age. But music, specifically vinyl, is what really grabbed me in a huge way. Firstly, the design on the sleeves of my father’s old record collection captivated me for months when I discovered them. Rick James, Donna Summer, Neil Diamond…the artwork was enough to inspire me to teach myself how to work the record player. When I was first able to get it to work that was it for me. The love for making my own music or writing lyrics was fos-tered by two cousins. One would tape Rick D’s weekly top 40 and we would transcribe lyrics from the cassette. Another would bring sound system tapes so I could learn the latest dancehall tunes before we would stage our own “sound clashes”. <br></br> <b>4. Can you tell us a bit about Nanook? "How did this name and title came about?” </b> <br></br> Nanook is a positive intention. When I moved back to Jamaica I knew what I wanted to be a part of. I had various ideas of what could work but I had been gone for a long time and was unfamiliar with the country. I knew I would need to understand the people, situation and myself a bit better so I wanted a name that gave me room to create a meaning. Nanook was a name my father used to call me, so I named the company Nanook Enterprises, so that I could have freedom to try a few different things. Over time the name has evolved into an acronym that stands for Nurturing All Nuances Of One’s Kreativity. At present, Nanook is a creative hub, a physical safe space for various creative communities, based in Kingston. Our efforts over the past two years have centred on fostering events to develop, showcase and connect local and international cre-ative talent. It is also a hostel facilitating cultural exchange programmes. This year we intend to shift focus to the virtual delivery of a suite of professional developmental services for creatives. <br></br> <b>5. What has Nanook taught you about yourself? </b> <br></br> The lessons are too much. It’s really been a rewarding, though challenging and humbling, expe-rience. Nanook has taught me about patience, forgiveness and the beautiful necessity and complexities of human interaction. I’ve learnt that I’m not as ______ as I thought I was. But, more than anything this journey has taught me that I’m stronger than I knew and has made me learn to love myself more. <br></br> <b>6. One of the events curated under the Nanook umbrella is called “Level-UP". Can you share more about this project? How has the creative community responded to this initiative? </b> <br></br> It’s funny you would ask as Level UP! was very significant to me for a number of reasons. It was the first time I staged an event that was less about Nanook facilitating or supporting the creative efforts of others in the space, and more about me harnessing energy to stage the kind of event I think the community needs. This event was born out of my experiences in the UP!Tour which resulted in the realisation that there was a real NEED to talk about things but that there wasn’t a forum to facilitate these discussions. The first season lasted 16 weeks and each Tuesday even-ing was a “comeunity” reasoning around a different topic. We had featured panelists but created an intimate setting that made it possible for all members of the community to engage. Audiences numbers ranged from 10-70+ and the music community supported with acoustic performances to close each gathering. We had guests from all over the world (Serbia, Kenya, Indonesia, US, Chile, etc.) and the feedback, both in person and online, has been really encouraging. Week after week, people come to listen and pay attention to and share perspectives. There was never any disrespect even though contentious subjects were covered. I think what the Nanook community shared in that space was a truly beautiful energy of collective growth. We’re all really looking forward to the next season. <br></br> <b>7. Who are the great Jamaicans who inspire you? </b> <br></br> I am inspired by different Jamaicans for different reasons but to keep it short, Deceased: JA Rogers and Louise Bennett… Living: really too many -can’t even start this. <br></br> <b>8. Where in Jamaica are you from, and what makes this place special? </b> <br></br> I’m from Kingston and it is special because it is a cultural mecca. It is the birthplace of Reggae music but is home to so much more in terms of creative energy and activity. It’s one of the most interesting little places in the world. So much happens here that ripples across the globe: It is a place where everything seems possible to me…if we get out of our own way. :) <br></br> <b>9. With neighboring Cuba opening up and Havana growing as a diverse and creative city, how can Kingston leverage it's creative power? </b> <br></br> Good question! :) I recently took my first trip to (and fell in love with) Havana. Incidentally, while I was there Fast and the Furious 8 was being filmed, so already the impact of the “opening up” can be evidenced. Historically, Cuba was an even greater ally than it is now. I actually have Cu-ban ancestry, as do many Jamaicans and I see only positives coming out of this if approached correctly. While there, I was able to meet with the Directors of a few cultural spaces and I’m hopeful that in years to come we will see increased collaborative efforts. Cuba is teeming with appreciation for the arts and, the sense I got, is of a genuine interest and willingness to collabo-rate with Jamaican creatives. As for Kingston leveraging its power: I think Jamaica and Cuba have a lot to gain from each other and music will lead the way. <br></br> <b>10. What do you think of the state of the creative industry in Jamaica? </b> <br></br> I am very optimistic about the state of the creative industries in Jamaica. Progress is frustratingly slow but it is happening - we need to be a bit bolder and focus on unifying efforts. Over my 8 years in the industry, I’ve seen the strides that have been made. There’s a lot to be done but I have confidence in the intention and capabilities of the key players…we just need to communi-cate and get it together. We may actually be better off or closer to our goals than we realise be-cause we haven't taken the time to clearly envision what we want for ourselves. This will require reframing of our perspective to understand and accept the reality of what “success” and “pro-gress” in the creative industries looks like in real life. I am optimistic but I am also very aware of the specific areas where key changes are necessary and possible. I hope those happen soon and will continue my advocacy in that direction. <br></br> <b>11. How would you like to change the world to be a better place? </b> <br></br> I don’t need to change the world. I am creating my reality daily and I do that through meditation and by trying each day to live a little bit more in accordance with the things I value. All I can change is me. <br></br> <b>12. What do you think your work offers Jamaica? </b> <br></br> I’m hoping to offer examples. I’m hoping to offer solutions. I’m hoping to be a part of a positive shift or mechanism that sees more Jamaicans respecting, accurately valuing and benefitting from our indigenous culture. <br></br> <b>13. What's your proudest achievement? </b> <br></br> That’s hard for me to answer. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet. I really feel very much like I’m just shifting out of preparation mode so my main hope is to achieve the original intention/vision be-hind Nanook in years to come. <br></br> <b>14. So where do you want to be in five years time? </b> <br></br> Alive, healthy and happy. <br></br> <b>15. Do you think more needs to be done for the arts in education? </b> <br></br> I think we have only scratched the surface in terms of the scope of what could be done for the arts in education. I’d love to see us integrating the practice of traditional cultural forms (storytell-ing, drumming, dance ceremonies, etc.) more into primary education. I would love to see the secondary education augmented by practical programmes that merge the creative arts with ac-ademic exercises (accounting and principles of business courses focused on learning artist management considerations, royalty splits and licensing structures). At the tertiary level, more can be done with our arts education programmes to allow them to have more real world viability. At present, many graduates still complain about feeling ill-prepared by schools for a future in the creative industries. I would like to see more of an emphasis on fostering innovation, entrepre-neurship and intellectual property awareness across all levels. <br></br> <b>16. Do you think public art can make a difference for a city like Kingston? </b> <br></br> Yes. Kingston and every city in the world benefits from public art. Again it was one of the things that struck me so much about Havana. I really respected the obvious regard for public art. I spent days just walking through the streets admiring what I can only call fine art graffiti splashed across buildings in Centro and Old Havana. The work was of such a high level and much of it was truly provocative. In addition to the street art, there were so many public parks with art-works, and publicly commissioned monuments that it truly raised my esteem for the Cuban peo-ple. The reframing of perspectives and consideration of new angles is so important. Art trains you to be better at doing that. Art allows you to explore alternate versions of long held assump-tions and beliefs in a way that is external to you and therefore, less threatening. I think Kingston and every city can benefit from added thought-provoking beauty. <br></br> <b>17. Do you feel a responsibility to be a good role model? Do you think artists and en-tertainers should be outspoken on social issues? </b> <br></br> I never started Nanook to be a community leader or role model. It was intended to be a facilitatory vehicle, or “user-steered” mechanism. It is only over the last year that I have had to accept that in order for my vision to be a reality, I must lead the charge. I was a reluctant leader and I’m only now embracing this role and trying to do what is necessary to level up my activities in this regard. I want to be the best version of myself. It is a process and I am thankful that I think anyone who is genuinely trying to better themselves will invariably be a good role model. I 100% think artists should be outspoken on social issues, particularly in a country like Jamaica where they hold such power; entertainers do not have to be. There is a huge difference between the two and both are necessary and have a purpose. <br></br> <b>18. Which present musician has had a profound effect on you? </b> <br></br> Var from Pentateuch is who comes to mind first. I am fortunate to interact with many artists fre-quently but not every interaction is as authentic and instructive as I find reasoning with Var. I believe in the authenticity of his interactions and I think that is evidenced in his performances. I remember at Wickie Wackie Music Festival last year when Pentateuch Movement was onstage, a friend commented that I was acting as if the performance had been dedicated to me. I laughed but in looking around, I think many of us there felt that. I think he has a really uncanny ability to emote in an extremely powerful way and I really respect the sincerity of his approach. <br></br> <b>19. What's on your playlist these days, and who are your favorite reggae artists? </b> <br></br> Hmm…on my playlist these days are actually a lot of old demos I made a few years ago with Massy the Creator. I’ve been listening to these tracks kind of addictively and really considering redoing or releasing some of them. I came across a quote that said “Creativity is Intelligence having fun!”…I’m about that right now.