Opinion: One Spark has some fine-tuning to do

Cassidy Alexander

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Though One Spark 2015 garnered attention from the masses, it still has room to improve.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

Everyone’s favorite crowdfunding festival has come and gone for the third year in a row. Although over 300,000 people attended One Spark this year, it’s important to note that the festival is still young. It still has plenty of time to develop and refine its creator categories to reach its full potential.

This year’s juried winner in the music category wasn’t a band per se. The Future Music Makers Youth Enrichment Program, which plans on using its $15,000 for equipment for its after school music classes, performed a total of 15 sets throughout the week via electronic duo Bells and Robes and funk pop band Flat Land.

While the winner undoubtedly relates to music, they were largely competing with bands and individual musicians for funding. Next to free after school activities for children, a local indie band is going to look undeserving, despite the fact that everyone deserves the chance to be funded.

Perhaps the Future Music Makers Youth Enrichment Program would have fit in better in the education or social good category introduced this year. Another after school music program, Crescendo Kids, competed in One Spark’s education category. The difference between the two is Crescendo Kids didn’t perform to push its brand.

Additionally, One Spark had an entire food district to feature culinary options in Jacksonville, but no food category. Restaurants and food trucks were forced to fit themselves into another category, like health and science. It seems silly, however, that Wooks Beef Jerky and Chomp Chips should be competing for the same funding as an obesity prevention and treatment program and Abdominal Training Wheels.

Maybe one way to decrease the number of seemingly misplaced creators would be to simply clarify the categories. Although the categories have changed between 2014 and 2015, there is no mention anywhere on the One Spark website of category descriptions. In their FAQs they allude to sub-categories with no further explanation or listing of these.

One Spark definitely has some kinks to work out, but it’s not all bad. UNF students have been increasingly involved each year, and any opportunity to raise funds to do what you’re passionate about is a good one. But to keep people happy and keep the festival’s momentum going, it may be time to get specific and hammer out some more details.

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