2016 SPARK Grant Recipients Announced


2016 SPARK Grant Program – Sponsored in part by Florida Blue

– Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville staff, December 1, 2015
Republished with permission. 

The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville announces the third cycle of SPARK Grant awards to fund temporary arts and cultural projects in Downtown Jacksonville’s SPARK District. Projects will be implemented between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016, using $70,000 of funds raised from recent Arts Awards Gala including a sponsorship by Florida Blue.

The SPARK District is a Cultural Council initiative focusing 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. The second cycle comprised of five SPARK grants ending this year and sponsored by Florida Blue, focused on teens and children.  Projects for the upcoming 2016 cycle were sought from nonprofit organizations and individual artists from the five-county First Coast area to ignite the walkable urban district with arts and culture.  The investment in these projects brings the total amount granted directly to projects and organizations to $176,000.

Selecting from a competitive pool of applicants, a panel of community leaders awarded five SPARK grants to individual artists and non-profit organizations that will represent a wide variety of arts and cultural experiences.

The 2016 SPARK Grantees are:

  • Visual artist Nicole Holderbaum will coordinate with other local artists and organizations to guide children and teens through painting themed murals in various locations within the SPARK District. Her project, “Jacksonville’s Youth Ignites the SPARK District,” is intended to promote a healthy lifestyle while engaging the whole community though the process and in the resulting artwork.
  • Jacksonville University Music Department led by Music professor Tony Steve, will present unique film events in the SPARK district that showcase the musical sounds of the historic early 1900’s Silent Film Era. The  SPARK project, “Hearing What Wasn’t Said: The Music of Silent Film,” will utilize a variety of instruments, original scores, classical melodies and sound effects to  demonstrate how music was used to communicate and enrich the entertainment experience, and will feature the JU band.
  • Stage Aurora Theatrical Company, Inc., will create multi-media theatrical presentations of Harlem Renaissance figures performed by professional actors, musicians, dancers, community actors and children. The project, called “The Harlem of the South: The Duke, Ella, James and The Cab!” introduces programming, some of which will be participatory, to draw crowds to different locations throughout the SPARK District.  Included is rich history detailing downtown’s Ashley Street once known as “The Harlem of the South.”
  • Composer, musician Maxwell Lee, with his film partner, James Siler, conceived “The Music Video 48-Hour Challenge” project to showcase local talent to a worldwide audience and to showcase Downtown Jacksonville to worldwide talent.  Musicians and video artists will be challenged to apply to be selected to produce music videos in the SPARK District within a 48-hour period to be shown over a weekend in the fall of 2016.
  • Greenscape of Jacksonville, Inc., the forty-four year old non-profit dedicated to planting, protecting and promoting trees in the city, plans to bring a provocative public art installation to the SPARK District known as “Blue Trees.” This project, originally created by Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, has attracted the interest of residents and tourists in cities all over the world.

SPARK grant recipients have done so much for our Downtown in just a handful of years. Many of these artists and projects have become household names in the community.  If you think about Swamp Radio, and Lyricist Live, and Sculpture Walk and really all of the projects, many have featured a ripple effect of new projects, goodwill and an increased quality of life for our citizens. This 2016 class of grantees was our most competitive yet and promises to be equally appealing and influential.” – Executive Director, Tony Allegretti.

Funding for the SPARK District Grant Initiative, the Artist Professional Development Workshop Series and the International Artist Lecture Series are generated through private benefactors and through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s annual Arts Awards fundraiser. The Cultural Council is accepting donations to help fund the next round of artist grants.  To make a secure, online donation, visit the Cultural Council’s website –