Let Your Phoenix Flag Fly: A New Arts District in Springfield

Christy Frazier in front of one of the Phoenix Art District buildings. Photo by Nate Price


Phoenix Art District, Christy Frazier, Photo by Francesco Salomoni, Springfield, Jacksonville, Florida
Christy Frazier, Photo by Francesco Salomoni

Phoenix Arts District (P.A.D.) is prepping to be a game changer for Jacksonville. The district will house the Jacksonville Florida School of the Arts (JFSOTA), and will be a community space with lots of moving parts. The major focus will be on hands-on art education and building a home for local and visiting artists.

P.A.D. is such a big undertaking that it needs a whole community of support–and thankfully there is a great team working on it. Local entrepreneur Christy Frazier and her business partner Aislynn Thomas-McDonald are at the helm. The two met when their daughters were in the same kindergarten class, and their very different skills make them a complementary pair. Frazier’s social capital, plus Aislynn’s experience as an attorney (and her ability to work negotiations like a boss) and their combined passion for the arts has really helped the project take flight.

Phoenix Art District, Christy Frazier, Aislynn Thomas-McDonald, Photo by Nate Price, Springfield, Jacksonville, Florida
Business partners Christy Frazier and Aislynn Thomas-McDonald, Photo by Nate Price

The pair’s main goal is “to have an all-inclusive, ever-expanding neighborhood for the arts.” The school is meant to engage and inspire the talent we have in town. If we provide them with the opportunity to expand their artistic insight, they won’t leave for another city with a more developed art scene.

Frazier is exactly the kind of person you want heading up a project like the Phoenix Art District, and has dreams for even bigger and better things as the project comes to fruition. While Jacksonville has arts and culture centers that give artists a creative space, the main difference between well-established arts spaces like Jacksonville’s CoRK Studios and P.A.D. is that there will be ongoing classes for the public.

Phoenix Art District, Christy Frazier, Photo by Nate Price, Springfield, Jacksonville, Florida
Phoenix Arts District is on N Liberty St. at E 14th St. in Springfield, photos by Nate Price

So, what kind of classes can you expect to take at JFSOTA in the Phoenix Arts District? Well, everything! They have so many thrilling ideas in the works, such as a film lab, woodworking, ceramics, glass blowing and more. The art school will be set up throughout 3 buildings with 100,000 square feet in Springfield’s Warehouse district. Renovating the space itself will be a gargantuan undertaking, but it’s exactly the kind of space this project needs. Fraizer looked all over the city for the perfect spot to break ground for the school. “I don’t want an island,” Frazier says, and Springfield offers the kind of strong community ties she is looking to build.

There are currently several working components to the project. Because of its available space there will be studios for artists here in town and residency projects for visiting artists. That’s right, through artist residency projects students at JFSOA will have a chance to access some really amazing artists from around the country. Frazier is interested in breaking open the art scene and allowing ideas to flow in and out, and she is very excited to eventually have an involved member of the arts take over the education component saying, “we are very lucky to currently have several candidates interested in taking charge of the arts education at the Jacksonville Florida School of the Arts.” Any level of student, adult and children alike, will be able to take advantage of these art classes and create a portfolio for themselves. In addition to a solid portfolio, students will also receive a certificate for the hours spent working on their specific craft.

Photos by Francesco Salmoni from a Bobby K fashion show held at P.A.D. in June

Ultimately, P.A.D. is meant to be a community spot where people can come and get a pulse of the city, hang out at a connected café, and buy from artists in residence. This retail feature will make it easier than ever to support artists in the city. Imagine the ease with which you’ll be able to drop in for a one of a kind piece made right here, in your neighborhood!  

Follow P.A.D.’s progress (including the great mural Shaun Thurston is working on!) by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

You can see the space for yourself Friday, November 11 at the Bobby K + MITRA Fashion Show.

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About Brentley Stead