Rock | Joan Webley

Irie Magazine | Rock - Joan Webley

Image Credit: © Seala Media

Joan Webley

Nanook Enterprise

Joan Webley’s love of music is one of her primary reasons for trying to aid the development of the
arts in Jamaica. This passion for music, combined with a multicultural upbringing, has shaped Joan’s career. She studied and worked in the entertainment industry in Melbourne, Australia for seven years. While completing her music business and law degrees, she worked in the fashion and music industries. Upon admittance to the Supreme Court of Victoria, she continued legal representation of filmmakers, animators, musicians and other entertainment professionals, before returning to Jamaica in 2008. Since then, Joan has been steadily drawing on her experiences, and collaborating with the local creative community, as she pioneers Jamaica’s first creative hub: Nanook.

Nanook Enterprises is based on Burlington Ave., in Kingston’s unofficial Entertainment District. The word started as Joan’s childhood nickname, and has Inuit Indian origins, but has evolved into an acronym that guides her approach: Nurturing All Nuances Of One’s Kreativity. It provides a “safe space” to facilitate the developmental, showcasing and networking needs of its eclectic, root-ical, creative and cultural entrepreneurs. Signature Events, including Level UP!, Sankofa Sessions, Ayni Meditations and various workshops and film screenings are held in the hub. It has also provided a meeting space for for other industry groups including the Jamaica Design Association, Manifesto Jamaica and the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. While developing the Nanook space Joan has worked alongside these organisations, and used her legal training, to advise individuals and advocate for legislative changes in support of Jamaica’s creators and culture locally.

Holistic, practical and innovative: Nanook has piloted several programmes and services to facilitate artists and entrepreneurs with access to the solutions they need. It’s multipurpose, co-working space includes an outdoor lounge with a bar and fire pit to meet the social and business needs of the community. It’s products and services are geared at managing intellectual property assets, integrating innovative design and technology, and facilitating healthy peer collaboration and cultural exchange. Last year saw 7 members of the community space undertaking an independent exploratory tour of European markets (UP!Tour 2015). And, this year has already seen the exciting addition of “The Nook”, an on-site 9-bed hostel, allowing visitors to Kingston the unique opportunity to stay and genuinely connect with the local creative community.

Nanook is doing all it can to help build bridges for people to ‘mek it inna life’ (make a better life) through respect for Jamaican indigenous culture and pursuit of their creative passions. “The next few years will be about constantly evaluating the impact of our activities. Refining the Nanook Approach locally, and deepening the cultural exchange with our international community,” says Joan. “I’m also becoming more aware and comfortable with my role as a community leader and wanting to bring myself more in alignment with the approach I advise. I truly believe that our culture and creativity are the keys to social and economic freedom, and it’s time for me to live that, and turn UP!”