The city will soon ignite again. Many remember last April, the inaugural One Spark festival, when downtown was transformed into a creator’s utopia.
One Spark is a five-day, crowd-funded festival that serves as a platform for creators to exhibit their ideas. The projects will be exposed to more than 100,000 people with the idea of connecting creators to the resources they need to make their ideas a reality.
People will display projects from the five categories: art, music, science, technology and newly added, innovation. They will have the chance to win from $310,000 of crowd funds and awards.
Last year the top winner was Rethreaded, a creative company with the mission to break the cycle of the sex trade. The project brought home more than $6,000 in crowd-funds.
The founder of Rethreaded, Kristen Keen, said that One Spark was a game changer and not only because of the winnings.
“It put us on the map,” Keen said, ”most people in Jacksonville heard about us though One Spark.”
This year, a newly reformed price structure will allow for even more winners than last year. Sponsored awards, including a check for the project that gains the highest amount of online contributions, will fund great ideas.
Even the “losers” of One Spark may get their big break. Private investors, gallery owners and music producers will bring $3.25 million to the table.
Last year, Shad Khan’s STACHE fund invested over $1 million in emerging businesses and this year he will invest again.
According to Mededith O’Malley Johnson, the Public Relations and Volunteer Services Manager of One Spark, the number one benefit surveyed creators got from One Spark was “immediate market feedback and validation from the general public.”
Sylvia Walker, a creator last year, only received $647 from crowd funds, but she credits One Spark to her success.
“The exposure and the branding that we got from One Spark in 2013 was priceless,” Walker said.
She now has her own storefront in The Landing and will participate in One Spark this year as a venue.
Anyone with an idea, and a less than a $1 million dollar-a-year operating budget, is eligible to participate as a creator in One Spark, regardless of the stage of development.
Volunteers are also appreciated. Johnson described One Spark volunteers as an interesting and diverse group.
“It’s just like-minded people who care about entrepreneurship and care about making Jacksonville amazing,” Johnson said.
There are a few other changes being made to the festival. The event, ranging from Hemming Plaza to The Landing, will shrink from an almost square mile wide footprint to 20 square blocks. This, along with other ideas such as more visible signage, will ensure each project receives proper foot traffic.
Although projects will be less spread out, One Spark will be adding almost 20 new venues.
This year a speaker series is being added April 10-11. The top minds of entrepreneurship and creativity, such as Brian Meece, the CEO of RocketHub, will share information and ideas for a price of $250 a ticket.
The number of attendees is expected to increase from the conservatively estimated 130,000 who attended last year. Visitors will be able to vote on their favorite creator projects, eat at the food truck food village and enjoy the city.
One Spark will dominate downtown April 9-13. Anyone looking to volunteer can sign-up on One Spark's website.
This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.