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Calling Jacksonville Artists: Public Art, Cultural Funding Through The Roof

Jessica Palombo

Jacksonville artists may want to dust off their portfolios. That’s because the city’s Cultural Council is offering up nearly half a million dollars for public art projects downtown.

First, the council is now taking applications for a total of $70,000 in privately funded SPARK Grants, sponsored by Florida Blue.

On Saturday, the Cultural Council hosted the Art in the Park event in Hemming Park. It was a chance to showcase past SPARK winners, like hip-hop artist Mal Jones, who rapped on the Hemming stage as his son, Jabari, beat boxed.   

Jones’s Lyricist Live events offer kids the chance to improvise behind the mic or turntables. No cursing allowed.

On top of SPARK Grants, the city’s Downtown Investment Authority is seeking public art proposals totaling more than $400,000.

On the corner of Hogan and Monroe streets, Cultural Council Executive Director Tony Allegretti pointed out where he envisions more public art.  

“You can see the guy’s got his bike locked up to this stanchion right here? If we had a lot of bike racks right here, you’d see them all full,” he said. “So we’ve got to make it friendly to come downtown.”

And making it friendly for artists, Allegretti says $180,000 will be up for grabs in round one, starting this summer.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP