Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville pushes for #MoreArtCulture

Lauren Dennis

The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville is on the rise in downtown, after being around over 40 years, advocating and enabling the inspired human beings of the city to create—and with an audience.

Artists in Jacksonville are in a very good position for exposure. The Cultural Council is the official re-granter of the city’s Arts and Culture budget and is the voice of artists when they become involved with the government.

“We’re sort of that voice for arts and culture in the community,” Communications Manager for the Council, Daniel Austin, said, “any time that legislation is going up that has to do with arts and culture, we’re the ones that will go to city hall and talk to the people who are making those decisions to sort of help tell them what’s going on, and get them to understand what happens when they make those decisions.”

The council has teamed up with WJCT to create The Square, which gives artist access to local programming via video segments to show off their art, whether it’s 2-D drawings, music or anything in between. Each quarter, artists submit their work and a council of judges decides on a winner to be featured.

Photo courtesy of Facebook
Photo courtesy of Facebook

“It’s user generated, so any artist can submit their work to it. It’s basically just a chance to promote artists more, to celebrate what they’re doing and to get their stuff out to people,” Austin said.

Austin believes in making art accessible for all Jacksonville citizens in any way he can through the council. The Spark District, a designated art hub in downtown, covers about 20 blocks of artistically charged Jacksonville culture. Artists around the city apply for grants from the council to create something of their own, whether it be an illustrious wall mural or a carefully carved sculpture, for visitors of downtown Jacksonville to enjoy every day.

With such an impressive amount of art and culture bound to the pavement and dancing through the streets of downtown, it would be a shame for it all to go unseen and unexperienced. Luckily for the artists and citizens alike, Daniel Austin has created a weekly email newsletter letting all who sign up know the prime spots for art viewing in Jacksonville.

“The organizations we support usually have their own email lists, but I wanted to have a place where I could put it all together, so if somebody wanted that one-stop-shop with all that information, they could have it all in one place,” Austin said, “every Monday I try to round up the events that are going on and highlight some of the artists and the things they’re doing, so people can go check it out.”

Austin says that the newsletter has gotten a good amount of positive feedback from his MoreArtCulture Newsletter and hopes the people who receive the information use it to uncover a new interest in the arts.

The Cultural Council also has a lot of opportunities available to UNF students with an eye for design. Internships are not uncommon for aspiring student artists and grants for big art projects are what the organization thrives on. Art in Public Places, an organization led by Christie Holechek that oversees all the art projects put into action, offers most of the internships given to UNF students.

“They’re in charge of working with the artists, getting new things passed, taking care of and maintaining the things we have now—and that’s all over the city. So she needs some help with that. She usually has interns working with her, so people can always apply to do that,” Austin said.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is supported frequently by the council and works very closely with UNF art students.

Overall, Austin thinks the community is receiving everything the council is putting out very well.

“I think you see how people are getting excited about stuff in Jacksonville. I think if you asked them a couple years ago they would say there’s not a lot going on here, I wish there was more stuff to do, and I really think you hear less of that now, because people are really starting to see that there’s a ton of stuff to do,” Austin said.

Email Rachel Cazares at [email protected]