Jacksonville’s annual One Spark festival is in a bit of trouble. Last year, the organization experienced some financial instability and cut its core staff down to just three people, leading many to question the future of the venture. To make matters worse, earlier this week, One Spark CEO Elton Rivas resigned at the urging of the board of directors. The 2016 festival, currently scheduled for April 7-9, suddenly looks like it may be in even more danger.
Since the inaugural festival in 2013, One Spark has seen increasing success and quickly turned Jacksonville into a creative hot spot. The crowdfunding event brought an estimated 320,000 people downtown last year and managed the feat of getting people to see the area in a positive light. For the last 3 years, Jacksonville has been absolutely bursting with entrepreneurial spirit. It would be a shame to lose the momentum we’ve gained from One Spark.
Even if this year’s festival goes on as planned, it won’t be the same. The size of it has already been reduced to just 12 city blocks, as opposed to the 20 blocks it took up in previous years. The event has also been shortened from six days to three … and that’s not a great sign. What happens if the popular festival fizzles out?
Some local business owners are willing to step up to fill in and make the event bigger. Representatives from a dozen businesses in downtown Jacksonville’s Elbow Entertainment District are collaborating on a plan to host their own event alongside One Spark in order to help supplement it. They may not be able to match the scope of the original festival, but they hope to keep the same vibe and ultimately build upon the legacy of One Spark with a unique new event — think of it as a multi-venue/traveling CD release party.
Grant Nielsen, one of the founders of the Elbow, said, “The Elbow is going to release Amplified Vol.2 and host a series of local showcases, as a complement to One Spark. Details are yet to be determined, but Jacksonville can bank on The Elbow to throw a great party, as we always do.”
One Spark has done great things for this city despite recent struggles internally, but it’s good to know that it has done it’s job and sparked inspiration in many locals.
Even if the event does not go on as planned this year, it won’t be leaving a gaping hole in the middle of downtown. The Elbow event sounds like a promising addition, and there’s still time for other local businesses to join the party or start planning their own mini-festival.
One Spark might be struggling, but Jacksonville’s creative fire is still burning bright.