After a five-month vacancy, Evanston has a cultural arts coordinator again, the Evanston Arts Council has announced. Joyy Norris began in her new position April 3.

Norris – whose first name has two Y’s because, she said, her father decided she was so special that one Y wasn’t enough and she would stand out with two – is filling the vacancy left by Rosie Roche, who left in October.

Joyy Norris, the new cultural arts coordinator for the City of Evanston. Credit: Gay Riseborough

Norris’ position is part-time, 20 hours a week, whereas Roche’s position was only 15 hours/week.

The previous full-time Cultural Arts Coordinator, Jennifer Lasik, left at the end of December 2018. Lasik served in the position 2013 to 2018, just over five years. After her departure, the position had, unfortunately for the arts, been vacant until Roche’s hire. Roche lasted not quite four months, from June to Oct. 23.

Norris was born in Chicago. She received her bachelor’s degree, majoring in cinema studies, from the University of Illinois in 2007. She moved from Hyde Park to Evanston in 2016 to attend graduate school at Northwestern and earned a master’s degree in documentary media in 2018. She wound up staying in Evanston and now lives in the Ninth Ward.

She has been an office assistant in a Chicago charter school and at the University of Chicago, and also worked at Sisters in Cinema, a resource for female African American media makers, and the Rebuild Foundation, an organization on Chicago’s South Side that uses the arts as a tool to revitalize communities.

Norris said she saw the Evanston position listed on the city’s website, decided it was perfect for her and applied.

Norris said she loves documentaries and independent films, recognizes the handiwork of artists on film sets and feels there is a resurgence of artistry in genre films these days – notably in special effects. She has worked on film sets locally as a production assistant and props master.

At present, she also works remotely at a second part-time job as an administrative consultant for Build Initiative, a national organization that advances work on behalf of youngsters from prenatal to age 5, as well as their families and communities. The Pritzker Children’s Initiative is one of the organization’s clients.

Norris said she loves Evanston’s energy and vibe: laid-back yet with great creative spirit. “Everyone is a semi-artist, and it feels like anything is possible here,” she said.

Norris said she feels that the end of the pandemic is opening doors, that people want new and different experiences – to get out and do things – and she wants to help.

She said her top priorities in Evanston will be building stronger connections with the arts community, planning collaborative projects and programs, streamlining administrative processes that take way too much time (constantly reinventing the wheel) and, most of all, working to increase the city’s funding of the arts.

On behalf of arts-loving Evanston citizens, we wish her great success.

Gay Riseborough

Gay Riseborough is an artist, has served the City of Evanston for 11 years on arts committees, and is now an arts writer at the Evanston RoundTable.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. AWESOME!!!! CONGRATS!!! I am glad the City of Evanston gave that position to a person who actually appreciates and respects the Arts! Prior staff put in that position had no interest in the art community and it showed. The art community were left independent to operate on their own without much support. Congrats, Joy Norris! This is GREAT news! Looking forward to what’s to come! Evanston has an AMAZING art community! It’s one of our gems!