February ushers in a new beginning for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville as Joy Young takes the reins as the program’s new executive director. Military brat, performing artist, and tireless advocate for the arts, Young is a cultural leader who successfully combined art and administration as the South Carolina Arts Commission’s director of administration, human resources, and operations for fourteen years. She has a bachelor’s degree in music, a master’s degree in art, and spent years investing in South Carolina’s artists and creative economy. Joy Young strongly believes in the power of the arts and is thrilled to step into Jacksonville’s burgeoning cultural scene. She’s ready to get to work.
Young recently chatted with Arbus Magazine about her artistic background, her journey to Jacksonville, and her multi-faceted goals for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Meet Joy Young, in her own words.
For those who do not yet know you, who is Joy Young? How would you define yourself in 30 seconds?
I’m just Joy. My name speaks to who I aspire to be toward others, and how I desire to live.
Where did you grow up and what’s your background?
South Carolina is the only home I know. My father was stationed at and retired from Fort Jackson, so I grew up as an “army brat.” Military bases were where, as a child, I encountered new kids almost every month and learned the art of making friends. Military life is also where I came to understand that impermanence is part of life and memories are to be cherished. Being able to travel during my childhood provided me an opportunity to experience people from almost every culture and ethnicity as well as instilled an appreciation of the arts, culture and heritage.
Where did your interest in the arts begin and how has it blossomed?
If traveling in Europe instilled an appreciation in the arts, culture, and heritage, then experiencing music, museums, food, and people from across the globe as a youngster provided the spark.
Who were some of your biggest influences or supporters along the way?
Choir directors were the people who opened my eyes to a possibility of being a singer. Yes, my parents provided years of piano lessons. However, school choir teachers like Miss Bullock and Mrs. Versprille encouraged me to pursue singing. In college and graduate school, people like Mrs. Shuffler, Mr. Veale, and the renowned Mrs. Betty Allen Lee left important and lasting lessons about professionalism and preparedness.
Can you tell me a bit about your journey to becoming executive director of the Cultural Council?
It has not been a linear journey, but it is one filled with the kinds of variety that make life interesting and fun. The journey has included a year of service to community as an Americorps Promise Fellow. I have been a church soloist, music teacher, arts entrepreneur, college adjunct faculty, program director, nonprofit administrator, recording artist, consultant, trainer and mediator. My committee work includes support of initiatives related to advocacy, cultural tourism, African American heritage, mentorship, arts entrepreneurship, arts education, artist services, community development and economic development. I leave the Arts Commission as the director of administration, human resources, and operations and arrive at the Cultural Council with a broad range of unique experiences, which will inform my work in this new role.
What do you hope to implement from your previous work experience at the South Carolina Arts Commission and apply to the Cultural Council?
I hope to implement the same commitment to arts access that is held by the South Carolina Arts Commission. I believe strongly that the Cultural Council must ensure that it creates opportunities for every citizen to enjoy and benefit from the arts, and that the arts contribute to quality of life and spur economic vitality.
Jacksonville is its own community, so what worked in South Carolina may not be transferable. However, what is true and transferable about the arts is their ability to positively impact community development and economic development through public art and placemaking, cultural heritage tourism, arts events and festivals, artist engagement, arts education and arts-based entrepreneurship.