The City of Jacksonville placed a picture of the The Florida Theatre and Jaxoscope, the 2019 public art installation by Shasti O'Leary-Soudant, on the front cover of their recent Capital Improvement Plan. Some may questions the choice of the image, donning the cover of such an important financial document. Some may just see it as a picture of an iconic location that represents downtown Jacksonville. Or, some may see it as a perfect representation of the link between the arts in Jacksonville and the future success of our city. I don’t know why the Mayor’s office chose this image, but I do know some things about the impact arts and culture has on community.
"The sign of a... great city is the strength of its cultural life," said J. Clayton Hering, president of Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts. "Our non-profit arts groups are a powerful economic force, and act as a magnet for tourism. Even more important, they help educate and inspire our citizens and stimulate creativity in the workplace and in our schools."
The new mural at Don’t Miss a Beat is a bright and beautiful declaration of the transformative power of the arts. It’s beautifully set against the backdrop of trees at Woodstock Park and surrounded by neighborhoods where exposure to the arts is not easily accessible, to say the least.
Juneteenth memorializes an incredible day for African Americans. It is also emblematic of two ideas we take for granted today - freedom and immediate access to information.
The last few blogs seem to all be about murals. There’s a few reasons for this. First of all, there are a lot of great murals going up all around Jacksonville! Another reason is they are a perfect way to explore, experience and discover beautiful art when museums and galleries are closed during a pandemic. They’re free to look at. You can meet and interact with the artists. You can even watch the transformation from blank wall to colorful masterpiece. It’s an amazing art form that has the ability to completely transform a city’s image and lift the spirits of a neighborhood.
How can we, as a community, document this unprecedented time in history?
Two local organizations are giving us a gift that we will be able to give to generations to come.
“A little more than a century ago, Jacksonville citizens faced loss in many ways from a series of events that were documented, for the most part, by news reporters and photographers, along with diaries and journals by citizens. The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888 (in which St. Luke’s Hospital played a healing role)… the Great Fire of 1901 (which stopped short of St. Luke’s Hospital) … the Great War (which came to be known as World War I) … and the Spanish Flu (also called the 1918 Flu Pandemic) all were dramatic events that could have brought our great city to its knees. Today we face a similar life-as-we-know-it-altering situation. How will we tell this story for future generations?” Quoted from Jacksonville Historical Society.
If you’ve driven down Arlington Expressway, recently, you probably noticed the expansive mural that now sits on the far end of the old Town and Country shopping center.
The shopping center, renamed College Park, was purchased by JWB Real Estate Capital and is part of their inspiring culture of giving back, by investing in areas that others have forgotten.
When we started our Artist Relief Fund, we expected contributions from individual donations, corporations, and local businesses. What we didn't anticipate were artists coming forward to help the cause by using their talents to support fellow artists.
Artist Nicole Holderbaum (Nico), has once again stepped up, offering to raffle an original painting that she is creating specifically for the fund. Nicole is well-known for spearheading such community impact projects as the Kid’s Mural Project and most recently the mural at the entrance of the Arlington area, now known as The Wall at College Park.
Raffle tickets can be purchased through:
1 for $5 and 5 for $20
Another artist, Jeremy Convery, of Jacksonville Beach, has personally felt the impact of the virus and wanted to do something to help the arts community.
In his unique pointillism style, made up of millions of tiny dots, he has created beach scenes that he's made into fun stickers. He is generously donating all proceeds from the stickers to the The Cultural Council of Jacksonville to be donated to local artists that have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation.
You can purchase stickers directly through the artist's venmo account:
Shark - Large $7
Shark Tooth - Large $7
Fin Design - Small $4
Beach Buggy- Small $4
The economic impact of the coronavirus shut down has been devastating for many industries. We are encouraged to order take-out and give extra tips to the staff of restaurants, in order to help compensate for the lack of business, but seldom is there much talk about artists, whose income has also come to a screeching halt.
In a recent article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, our executive director, Joy Young, shared that there is already a collective loss of over $1 million in revenue in the arts and culture sector on the First Coast.
In an effort to assist individual artists (including performers, writers, fine art, etc)we have started the The Artist Relief Fund. The intent is to raise support through individual donations and in partnership with social entrepreneurs, corporations, and local businesses.
Void Magazine and Strata Mfg. have been huge supporters, starting us off with the proceeds from the Void this Virus t-shirt sales that raised over $1200. Void is continuing their incredible support by starting a special online sale that will donate $5 for every sale.
The small grants of $250 certainly won't make up for all the losses felt, but with your help, we can alleviate a bit of stress and help cover some bills.
Putting money into art and culture organizations, in the face of this global pandemic may seem completely irrational. In fact, we have received some negative comments regarding the small percentage of government funding that is part of the CARES act- the government emergency funding package.
At first glance, of course. How could anyone disagree with putting all our financial resources towards saving lives? In the face of life or death to hundreds of thousands of Americans, and the very fabric of our society, why would we worry about funding for the NEA, Smithsonian Institute or other arts and culture institutions?
The greatest answer isn't the fact that the arts contribute over $700 billion to the U.S. economy. Or, that it employs 4.9 million workers across the country.
According to The Art Newspaper(2020), The most valuable reason to protect the arts and culture industry, in this time, is their role as "chroniclers of our capacity to overcome...To lose them, at a moment when so much is on the line, is a uniquely terrible thing."
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