Cultural Council’s SPARK DISTRICT announces SPARK Grantees


The Cultural Council has announced the 2016 SPARK District Grantees. These creatives were chosen from First Coast applicants who will receive specific funding for exciting art and cultural projects intended to activate and spark the Cultural Council’s Downtown SPARK District with temporary projects. This effort precedes the initial thrust of the upcoming Downtown Investment Authority’s Urban Projects located along Hogan and Laura streets. Awardees include:

Nicole Holderbaum_youth muralsNicole Holderbaum, Visual Artist

Jacksonville’s Youth Ignites the SPARK District

Holderbaum will coordinate with other local artists and organizations to guide children and teens through painting themed murals. Her project is intended to promote a healthy lifestyle while engaging the whole community through the process of the resulting artwork.

Tony Steve _JU Silent FilmsJacksonville University Music Department 

Hearing What Wasn’t Said: The Music of Silent Film

JU Music Professor Tony Steve will offer unique film events that showcase the musical sounds of the historic early 1900’s Silent Film Era and feature the JU Band utilizing a variety of instruments, original scores, classical melodies, and sound effects to demonstrate how music was used to communicate and to enrich the  entertainment experience.

Stage Aurora_groupStage Aurora Theatrical Company, Inc.

The Harlem of the South: The Duke, Ella, James, and the Cab!

This multimedia theatrical presentation of Harlem Renaissance figures will be performed by professional actors, musicians, dancers, community

actors, and children. Programming, some of which will be participatory, will draw crowds to different locations throughout the Cultural Council’s SPARK District and is intended to create interest in the rich history, such as giving detail to downtown’s Ashley Street once known as “The Harlem of the South”.

Maxwell Lee, Composer and Musician, and James Siler, Film Partner

The Music Video 48-Hour Challenge

They will showcase local talent and Downtown Jacksonville to a worldwide audience by challenging musicians and video artists to apply for selection to produce a music video within 48 hours. The results will be shown over a 2016 fall weekend.

BlueTreesGreenscape of Jacksonville, Inc.

Blue Trees

Now 40, this leading non-profit continues its dedication to planting, protecting, and promoting trees in Jacksonville. Already making worldwide news in Vancouver, London, Houston, Seattle, and other forward-thinking cities, as well as featured on a front cover of ARTnews, this provocative public art installation will be created by internationally known Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos using community volunteers starting in mid-January.

The 2016 grant process was announced in May, and the Cultural Council offered a free SPARK Grant Workshop in June to aid in the application process before the August deadline. Cultural Council SPARK Grants are funded through private donations to the Cultural Council from the 2015 Arts Awards dinner, and they are sponsored in part by Florida Blue.

“The SPARK district grantees have always hit it out of the park,” says Tony Allegretti, Executive Director of the Cultural Council. “The diversity and quality of applicants this year really shine through in our awardees for 2016. We’ve got community interactive creativity with kids, environmental art, local music, and homages to our DNA in the silent film industry and our epic roots in the jazz era. There is not just something for everyone, there is something for everyone to celebrate. Like each of the alumni of the SPARK program to date, we are in for something special in 2016.”

The 2016 requests represent the third year of grant distribution, bringing the total number of SPARK Grants to 16. For the 2016 cycle, the Cultural Council received 36 applicants totaling more than $700,000 in grant requests. A nine member Selection Panel reviewed each request according to specific guidelines and selected 5 awardees consisting of two individuals and three organizations to receive a total of $70,000. The 2016 SPARK grantees typically use these funds as seed dollars paired with their own private fundraising and in-kind contributions. Many artists activate community volunteers to further impact the grant.

“While the SPARK Grant Program is open to non-profit organizations, it is one of the few opportunities for local individual artists to apply for grant funding,” explains Amy Palmer, director of Grants Administration for the Cultural Council. “We are committed to providing free professional development opportunities to artists of all cultural disciplines through the PNC Artist Development Series and the creation of the Every Single Artist Registry. Individuals who sign up for the registry will receive information about our upcoming grant writing workshop.”

The Cultural Council is all about community. They offer a signature Artist Professional Development Workshops sponsored by PNC Bank; artist lectures, such as the International Artist Lecture Series, sponsored by VyStar Credit Union; and a monthly Artist Lounge event as part of their community outreach and networking strategies.

Members of the creative community who signed up with the free Every Single Artist Registry at are invited to the upcoming free Artist Professional Development Workshop on Grant Writing on February 2, 2016. More information and registration at

About Joanelle Mulrain