JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The One Spark event that promises to practically take over downtown Jacksonville from April 17 to 21 is billed as the world's first crowdfunding festival. But what does that mean?
"If you've been out to Art Walk, it's like that but times 100," said Elton Rivas, the event's co-sponsor and executive director.
About 1,000 "creators" will be displaying projects in the arts, music, science and technology at 58 venues throughout downtown Jacksonville -- mostly stretching between Hemming Plaza and the Jacksonville Landing.
Those creators are all vying for the public's vote for concepts or products that should receiving funding. One Spark features a guaranteed $250,000 crowdfund to be distributed to the creators in proportion to the the public's vote. In addition, Stache Investments Corp., formed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan, pledges up to $1 million in equity investments and the public can contribute any amount to individual creators.
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One of hundreds of booths will feature Rethreaded, a nonprofit that gives women who've been liberated from the sex trade dignified employment by making products out of recycled T-shirts donated by the community.
"They come through lives of addiction and abuse and prostitution and they don't believe they have anything of value to offer," said Kristin Hart. "I do believe that they do, and at Rethreaded, we really encourage that in them."
Hart is hoping money from the One Spark prize will help them hire more women.
"We're really pumped to be involved in it, and to give the community a chance to help us fund our cause by just voting," Hart said.
"I think it's a great showcase of all the creative talent we have here in our community that's been here and been under the radar for many, many years," Rivas said. "It's a really good way to showcase that talent, to really kind of revitalize some of the energy that's there -- and to host it in downtown is just a really great thing for our city."
One Spark is free and open to the public, with the exception of speaker sessions, which are ticketed events.
The magnitude of the event will have an impact on downtown traffic and parking. From Wednesday morning to Sunday evening, Laura Street will be closed between Duval Street and Independent Drive, and Adams, Duval and Monroe streets will be closed to vehicles between Hogan and Laura streets.
Bay Street between Liberty and Ocean streets will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.
The Main Street Bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday for the Florida Theatre's "Rick the Bridge" Gala.
Because parking will be at a premium, a free shuttle will run between One Spark from a free parking lot at EverBank Field. The Skyway, which is always free, will be open late, or you can ride one of the JTA's trollies for $1.50 per trip or the water taxi for $3 a trip.
Organizers are planning for One Spark to become an annual event.
"The should be part of the fabric of our community in Jacksonville for years to come," Rivas said.