Joy Mboya is the Executive Director of the GoDown Arts Centre, which is widely recognised as a hub providing artistic spaces for Kenyan artists and a range of programmes for local audiences in Nairobi, Kenya. She has wide experience in the Kenyan cultural sector, having served in various capacities within film, theatre, music and art.
“I call myself an enabler of the development of artists and art spaces, having done this for more than 15 years now. This is basically about how can artists find spaces where they can work and interface with the greater public. My work also integrates with policy; setting an enabling environment where these spaces can multiply.
I constantly explore questions about who I am, what my role is and how I can make a difference; how I can engage meaningfully with other people to better the society we live in. Artistic spaces are innovative when it comes to sprouting ideas, and I believe when given an opportunity, the infusion of art in society can help us solve problems that we face every day.
In the spaces where I work, you don’t always notice pushback at first glance, especially when you are working with other women. Spaces revolving around policymaking sort of make you aware of being a woman who is questioning systems. In terms of participation of women in artistic spaces, I always face the challenge of how to gain parity.
As a mentor, I have encouraged female artists to stay focused on their journey and career paths, which are mostly dominated by men. The need to achieve a balance when it comes to their career and families is what I emphasise most.
10 years from now, I see more recognition towards and better appreciation of the significance of artistic spaces and the important role of the creative economy in giving a sense of national identity.
Hivos East Africa has been a crucial partner in the Creative Economy Working Group where we are working together to consolidate players in the creative industry to push for reforms in the sector. Together, we have facilitated knowledge sharing through peer-to-peer learning and engaging with the government to advocate for a robust policy environment that is supportive to creatives.”