We sat down with Nicole Holderbaum, winner of one of the The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue 2016 SPARK grants, to discuss the grant program, Jax Kid’s Murals and art culture in #DTJax.
All photos by Nicole Holderbaum
Tell us a little about yourself and how this whole project began.
I have been pursuing my career as an artist here for about three years now and I have found nothing but support and love from my community. Naturally, I wanted to be a part of anything that would further my career and above all else, benefit the community so when I found out about the One Spark crowd-funding festival I knew I had to be a part of it. I became a One Spark creator in 2015 and although I didn’t win, it led to many incredible relationships and opportunities. One of the greatest of those opportunities was working with the Jacksonville Parks and Rec Department on a series of kid’s murals for their 2015 summer program: Summer Night Lights! This is where I discovered my true passion for working with children and after learning about the 2016 SPARK Grant I wanted to come up with a great project!
The SPARK Grant provided by The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue is one that searches for creative projects that will benefit the community and bring a positive light and life to Downtown Jacksonville. In December of 2015, I found out that I was one of the SPARK Grantees for 2016! My project, “Jacksonville’s Youth Ignites the SPARK District” (now called Jax Kid’s Mural Festival) was chosen to receive funding for 2016. Jax Kid’s Mural Festival is all about uniting our community and providing a fun and creative event for children and their families to enjoy.
How did you hear about the SPARK Grant opportunity? What was that process like?
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember how I heard about it. I think I just got so excited and my mind started racing as soon as I found out about it that the memory of discovering it was not logged into my long term memory! The process was pretty simple. Fill out an online application and detail every single aspect about your project/idea. It took me probably a week to complete. I really wanted to do a good job!
Why do you think that art in Downtown Jacksonville specifically is so important?
I think that art in Downtown Jacksonville and all around Jacksonville, brings our city to life. Art, especially big art that you can’t help but look at, makes you think and really gets your mind going. It is also very pleasing to look at, so it makes people happy! Above all else I think public art adds something special to our City, something that instills pride within the people of our community. It is a public display of the awesome and creative things that are going on in this city.
The Jax Kid’s Mural Festivals are a series of four mural festivals for children that will be held in four different locations in the SPARK District of Downtown Jacksonville. What you can expect to see are three free-standing walls approximately eight feet tall and 20 feet long on which children will be painting and filling in a coloring-book-style mural.
Right now the focus is on making our first event as big and amazing as it can possibly be. We want to start off with a BANG! Fundraising is also one of the top priorities as it enables us to focus on our outreach program. The outreach program is all about bringing the mural festival to underprivileged children in our community, children who wouldn’t be able to attend the main events held in the Downtown area. I hope that through my kid’s mural projects I can provide guidance for the youth of our community and help them to become confident and happy individuals. Our goal is to bring a mural wall to one school every month and host a mural day for the students. Once their mural is complete the school can keep it and put it on display around their campus. We think and hope that this will brighten the day for these kids!
How can people help fund this project or get more information on attending and participating?
The first of the four festivals will be held on April 2nd in Hemming Park in collaboration with the non-profit organization Yoga 4 Change. The festivals will be open to all businesses and organizations in our community who are interested in participating, sponsoring or collaborating in any way.