Spark District Grants

The Cultural Council is reinventing itself into a mature and multi-level central organization for the arts, which supports the art and cultural events in NE Florida. The Spark District is just one major initiative. An artist can participate in the grant process for funding, too. The first round of Spark District grants was implemented last year with the following:

The Looking Lab: Art in Empty Storefronts
by performing artist and educator Joy Leverette Swamp Radio by long-time Jacksonville playwright Ian Mairs Jacksonville Songwriter Residency
by Brad Lauretti, Musician in Residence (special thanks to the Omni for participating in this project)
Sculpture Walk in Main Street Park
by Professor Jenny Hager, UNF

Jenny Hager, well known for the fire radiating from the metalwork department at UNF, is developing a national call to artists for 10 large-scale sculptures to be placed in the public park on Main Street for enjoyment by all who walk, drive, and cycle by. Her expertise and coordination of the artists in this project will mark the turning point by which people will further understand what art can do when it’s placed within a community to create synergy and elicit an emotional response and community conversation-–and create a destination.

“My vision for Main Street Park is to take an under-utilized public space and turn it into something that has visual impact and becomes a cultural landmark in Jacksonville,” says Hager. “When sculpture is added to the park, it will create an energy downtown. It will draw people to the urban core so they can experience the park with children, family and friends. It should be a destination for residents and tourists alike.”
The second round of Spark District Grants is now complete, and the winners will be announced during the public Street Inferno Party. The big thank-you goes to grant sponsor Florida Blue.

“I think it’s critical for the private sector to be involved in public art and placemaking because the private sector has just as much responsibility as the public sector in making sure that our Downtown is thriving,” says Pat Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue and sponsor for this second series of grants. “We have great things that are going on here today in the Spark District, and we have the opportunity for many more things to happen, but it will take all of Jacksonville’s support.”

Florida Blue often takes a leadership role in the arts and culture in Jacksonville, as their corporate office is located here. Their full underwriting of the second round of Spark Grants shows their desire to keep the spark alive in Jacksonville.

With excitement already building, the choice was hard to make as 34 artists and art and culture organizations vied to win a grant. The third round of Spark Grants will be announced soon. The more funding the Cultural Council receives, the more grants they can administer and make available to the growing regional artistic community. This third round of grants will be funded by the proceeds from the Night of Fire. By virtue of these grants, it is the hope of the Council to engage the public and increase foot-traffic with experiences that are meaningful and important to the quality of life we all enjoy in Jacksonville.

“The goal of providing a venue for all disciplines in our art community is important to us. As public art in The Spark District will set the tone of what is to come as Jacksonville grows, so will the Cultural Council and our projects for the communities we serve,” Goodrich continues. Spark Grants may include the visual arts, dance and performing arts, music-–the whole spectrum. “The economic resurgence of our city will be by the success of our artists and innovators,” Goodrich says.

The Spark Initiative and The Spark District are igniting the larger community conversation about arts and culture in Jacksonville. When people work together the results can rise as the phoenix bird; out of the ashes can come greatness. Join EU Jacksonville staff during the street party, and be part of history!

If you or your company are interested in a level of sponsorship for Cultural Council initiatives, please contact Ms. Goodrich at the Cultural Council. Donations in support of the arts are welcome by all. It is with the help of individuals and families that great things can happen for artists, for the public, and for our visitors.

A focus on the arts is a focus on what makes a city great-–the arts can change a city from being simply a place to live and work to a destination. You can become part of the synergy of change today. For more information, get in touch with the Cultural Council today and become a spark in the events which will, as the Council hopes, catch Jacksonville on fire for the future as a national destination for the arts, culture, innovation and technology. You can help make Jacksonville a great place to live, work, and play-–together, it can be done!


april, 2022