One Spark as we know it is unfortunately (mostly) dead … for now. A brilliant idea that started to help crowdfund cool innovations has devolved into little more than a slightly larger than usual art show. In case you didn’t know, the new incarnation of One Spark has been shortened significantly to just two days, April 6 and 7. It will now be a collaboration with the regular First Wednesday Art Walk, rather than a standalone festival.
April 6 will be “Spark Walk,” which will combine the regular Art Walk event at Hemming Park with a smaller One Spark creator showcase that will stretch down Laura Street to the Landing. There will be room for up to 120 creators to participate in the showcase, but the final list of participants has not been decided yet.
Spark Walk will take place from noon to 10 p.m. and will be followed by Spark Walk After Dark hosted by The Elbow (which looks to be amazing). The main event will feature live music and food trucks spread across 15 blocks of downtown Jacksonville. Creators who participate in the showcase are invited to promote their own crowdfunding platforms and even sell items, but the whole idea of One Spark as a voting-based crowdfunding festival has been essentially killed off.
Day two will be “Creator Innovation Day,” featuring keynote speakers, workshops and presentations that celebrate and promote entrepreneurship, as well as a “hackathon” that will have teams of students competing to solve actual problems that our city is facing.
It still sounds like fun and, of course, an abbreviated and mutated One Spark is better than nothing at all, but what purpose does the event serve now? The crowdfunding aspect of the festival was what made it unique and drew so many people. The original incarnation of One Spark was described as a real-life version of Kickstarter, and it truly was a fantastic way to support small startups with big dreams. Now that there will not be a big cash prize or any official means of financially supporting the creators, the showcase will be nothing more than, well, a showcase.
It will give creators a chance to put their ideas out there and get feedback from the public, but without the voting system and prizes, it doesn’t really mean as much to the creators who could probably get the same amount of exposure just by marketing themselves.
One Spark version 1.0 was great while it lasted, but it was ultimately too big for this world. Much respect to the remaining One Spark staff and the people at the Elbow for trying to keep the dream alive after all the drama. It will be interesting to see how this new event goes, and hopefully it is successful enough to keep Jacksonville on top as one of the great places to innovate. Perhaps it will