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One Spark Registers Fewer Creators This Year

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Jacksonville's annual One Spark Festival kicks off in just one month and 555 creator projects have been selected for this year's crowdfunding event – fewer than participated last year.

Last year 630 projects were registered for the annual event. The downturn comes despite that fact that the deadline for creator registration was extended.

One Spark staffers say it wasn't unexpected.

"ArtPrize, a festival we are similarly modeled after, saw the same decrease in year three," said Meredith O'Malley Johnson, One Spark's public relations director. "It is common for festivals to grow a lot in the first two years and stabilize around year three."

On a positive note, there was a 23 percent increase in the number of projects based outside of Florida.

One Spark aims to be the festival people all over the country use to crowdfund and promote their ideas and projects, said Varick Rosete, co-founder of One Spark. The One Spark staff is trying to make Jacksonville a city people consider innovative, culturally sound and able to produce start-ups.

That seemed to be on display in the technology category, which showed a 44 percent increase with 88 projects entered in 2014 and 127 technology projects this year.

"We're excited to welcome more technology projects and more creators from outside the region to One Spark 2015," One Spark co-founder and CEO Elton Rivas said in a news release. "Each year the quality of creator projects continues to increase."

Johnson said there was a focus on bringing more quality technology projects to One Spark in 2015.

"We did a lot of outreach in the Southeast area targeting technology startups and sponsoring small events in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando and locally," Johnson said.

All 555 creators have already been matched with venues, businesses or sites where creators can set up their booths. This process doubles as a quality check — if none of the venues want to host a creator's project then that project is dropped from One Spark.

There are a higher percentage of creator projects matched with venues than there was last year. Venues and guest curators, who will organize the creators within one specific site, invite prospects they think are interesting to be hosted in their venue.

"The Carling is a technology hub this year," Johnson said. "We are seeing more venues take on a specific category of creators rather than a mix."

Riley Wolf is a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism. Riley has a strong nose for traveling and all things adventurous.