SPARK Grants: What are They & What Got Funded in 2014

September 17, 2014 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Spark District is a Cultural Council initiative focused on growing the economic vitality of downtown Jacksonville through unique arts and cultural experiences. The inaugural Spark Grant Program funded four projects through privately- raised dollars in 2013, and the second wave of Spark Grantees is underway. Join us for details after the jump!

The first cycle of Spark Grant awards went to four local artists to execute arts projects in the Spark District, a defined zone in the urban core targeted for revitalization through the arts. A pool of $61,000 in privately-raised funds was used to launch the projects, which were implemented between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.

University of North Florida sculpture professor Jenny Hager created “Art in Public Places: Spark District,” --- a national call to artists for a number of outdoor sculptures to loan for a two-year period. The pieces are available for purchase with hopes that they will become a permanent display after the initial period.

Musician David “Brad” Lauretti has been presenting the “Jacksonville Songwriter’s Residency,” a program to bring both local and visiting songwriters to live and perform in the Spark District. The musicians partner with downtown venues for weekly performances. Lauretti is the coordinator of the Gram Parson’s Songwriting Contest in Waycross, Georgia. He is also employed as the talent/booking manager for downtown Jacksonville’s Underbelly venue.

Local fine artist Joy Leverette’s “The Looking Lab: Art in Empty Storefronts” activated four downtown storefronts with varying art disciplines. Each storefront provided an interactive experience to engage pedestrians and increase foot traffic using visual art, performance art, film and music.

Neptune Beach playwright Ian Mairs produced “Swamp Radio Jax,” which entails broadcasting quarterly “variety” shows featuring local talent and street level activity, ultimately celebrating the art, culture and history of Jacksonville. The shows are broadcast live within the Spark District and podcasts are also available.

The Spark Grant Program is open to individual artists and nonprofit cultural organizations in the five-county First Coast area. Projects were assessed by a panel of art and community leaders, vetted by the City of Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places Committee and approved by The Cultural Council’s Board of Directors.

The second cycle of funding in 2014 is sponsored by Florida Blue, with additional marketing and administrative support provided by The Prudential Foundation. Projects were sought from nonprofit organizations and individual artists from the five-county First Coast area that would appeal to children or teens and help ignite the district at the street level. Projects were assessed by a panel of arts and community leaders and approved by The Cultural Council’s Board of Directors.

The 2014 Spark Grantees are:

Visual artist Sarah Crooks Flaire will coordinate a series of creative public workshops titled In the Mouth, the Oyster and I. The workshops will culminate in a live street performance designed to engage families in playful celebration of the estuary life of the St. Johns River. River animals and artifacts will come to life through storytelling and creative play.

Performance artist Liz Gibson will showcase Deformance Art, a collection of monologues, music, and lyrics that explore diversity, overcoming adversity and becoming empowered. Developing self-worth and overcoming rejection and bullying are some themes that will be expressed through story-telling, singing, dance, and visual metaphors.

Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens will present The Zoo-to-You Ambassador Program, coordinated by the Zoo’s education department. The educators will bring the Zoo van with touchable animals, biofacts, and interactive experiences to Community First Saturdays. By gearing programming to match the "urban" setting, the Zoo will provide engaging, interactive, and educational activities for children, teens and families to the Spark District Downtown.

Musician Jamal Jones will produce a monthly hip-hop event in Downtown that is aimed to draw crowds of aspiring young rappers and spectators and will feature live performances from local musicians. Jones will host, perform, document and video this Spark Grant project titled The Lyricist Live.

Street Pipes Mobile Mosaic is the creation of RouxArts, led by Kate Garcia Rouh and Kenny Rouh. Outdoor workshops at Spark District venues call for open public participation to build approximately 108 square feet of mosaic design. The mosaic will be applied to seven different large diameter CPVC pipes which will be setup for temporary display as "street pipes" in the Spark District.