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First Coast Connect

A 'Party With A Purpose' - One Spark Looks To Expand Globally And In Jacksonville

One Spark

After the major success of the 2014 One Spark festival in Jacksonville last week, the founders of One Spark are headed to New York for a whirlwind media tour, including a stop at the New York Stock Exchange.The second edition of the world’s first crowdfunding festival attracted record crowds to downtown Jacksonville over five days with perfect weather —260,000 people came out to be part of the event.

The festival's success has left many wondering: What’s next for One Spark, and how can Jacksonville capitalize on the momentum following the 2014 festival?

One Spark co-founder Elton Rivas, One Spark Executive Director Joe Sampson, and Katherine Hardwick, marketing director for Downtown Vision Inc. joined Melissa Ross to discuss the future of One Spark and downtown Jacksonville.

"We couldn't be more excited about the results," said Rivas of how the public responded to this year's festival.

Rivas and One Spark's top financial benefactor Peter Rummell will be in New York to discuss the future of One Spark with national media, including CNBC, The New York Times, Fortune, and Fast Company.

"I think it's really important to tell the story of what's going on in Jacksonville," Rivas said.

"One Spark was such incredible exposure for downtown," said Katherine Hardwick of Downtown Vision Inc. She described conversations with people at the festival who told her they hadn't visited downtown Jacksonville in years.

During a press event at the festival, Peter Rummell said while One Spark could be a vision for the future of downtown Jacksonville, it is not the "cure to downtown revitalization."

"I don't think anyone in our office disputed that," Hardwick said when asked about Rummell's remarks.

"One Spark is one incredible piece of the puzzle, but there are a lot things that need to come together and align to really make downtown a 24/7 city."

One of the immediate next steps for One Spark will be One Spark Berlin. The three day festival is scheduled for Sept. 12-14 at the Alte Münze in Mitte, and an online crowdfunding effort is underway to support the festival's first international iteration.

Credit Patrick Donges / WJCT
One Spark's Joe Sampson, left, and Elton Rivas on First Coast Connect.

"The experience is going to be a little bit different," Rivas said, noting that the Berlin festival will take place at one central venue. "But the ultimate core, kind of the ethos of One Spark, will remain the same, of taking a great idea and helping that connected to capital either human or financial.

One Spark Executive Director Joe Sampson said that for Jacksonville, the first step is recognizing the significance of this year's festival. Sampson said last week marked the largest gathering of people in the country over those five days.

"I think as the brand continues to grow and expand and we enter new markets and continue building out this platform for action... I think that only benefits the city where it started," he said, adding that One Spark will stay headquartered in Jacksonville.

Hardwick noted several projects this year, namely the effort by amplify, inc. to renovate the city's historic Snyder Memorial Church into a music venue and recording studio, as a sign of things to come downtown.

"You're seeing projects that are starting to take-off and they're located in downtown, and they're going to change the landscape throughout the entire year and for years to come," she said.

The Synder Memorial renovation project won this year's crowdfunding award for innovation, earning more than $13,700 based on festival votes.

Among the responses to One Spark since it's inception last year, especially when compared to other festivals, Elton Rivas said one of the most interesting comments he has heard is referring to the festival "a party with a purpose."

"The essence of this thing, and we always talk about it, is that connectivity," he said. "People are down here with that purpose of supporting creators, of supporting people who are taking action, and it provides a very different atmosphere than just somebody coming down to party for five days."

"We're really excited about that and hope that continues."

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Patrick Donges at @patrickhdonges.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.