Downtown Spotlight: Joe Sampson of One Spark

With less than two months to One Spark, you’ve probably noticed it’s taken over the city – posters in ground-level businesses, advertisements at many bus stations, a wrapped Skyway car. Soon Creators, musicians and folks from across the globe will swarm Downtown streets to attend the festival April 9-13.

In its second year, this festival is bound to be bigger and better than the first, with more money to distribute and already more than 700 Creators signed up to participate.

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Executive Director Joe Sampson

Behind this incredible event, you’ll find an incredible team. Made up of creative guys and gals, we recently had a chance to catch up with Joe Sampson, executive director of One Spark.

How did you get involved with One Spark, and why?

When I met co-founder Elton Rivas, One Spark immediately stood out to me as a project of action that provides a platform for others to take action. Since moving to Jacksonville, I noticed that we’d almost been crippled by endless talking, meeting, talking about meeting and then conducting a series of studies about the meetings. I halfway kid, but the point I’m making is that One Spark is for those who do, and the prospect of what it could become was attractive enough for me to leave a job that I loved.

What do you love most about One Spark? 

I love that it takes crowdfunding offline and creates a real-life version of Kickstarter, surrounded by a more intimate version of the programming you’d experience at SXSW. I love that it forces people to connect, to engage and to inspire each other. In the age of digital everything, it feels good to be a part of something successful that’s going against the grain.

What have you learned about Downtown and through this experience?  

I lived in Downtown Jacksonville long before One Spark, but my experience at One Spark has definitely reinforced that Downtown Jacksonville is misunderstood. It’s taught me that everyone thinks you need permission to make it awesome. You don’t – just go for it. As for me, I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow, but I couldn’t be in a better place and time to do just that.

One Spark is much more than the festival in April. What else does the One Spark crew have under their sleeves? 

I could tell you, but lightning would come down from the skies and take me out. We may be rolling out some big news March 20.

So what’s new for One Spark 2014 that you can share with us? 

Bigger funding opportunities for Creators, better programming and entertainment for all and a more concentrated event footprint. One Spark 2014 Creators will showcase their projects in art, innovation, music, science and technology for a chance to access $310,000 (including ELEVEN $10,000 checks!) in guaranteed crowdfunds and cash awards, $3.25 million in potential capital investments and unlimited individual contributions from well over 150,000 attendees. One Spark attendees will experience a Food Village presented by San Marco Dining District, a Beer Village (BEER!) presented by Sea Best Seafood, a Creator Music Stage, Community First Pitch Decks, nightly concerts in the One Spark After Dark Lot, Wi-Fi on steroids, VIP parties, a world-class Speaker Series and a few sprinkles of epic and random entertainment throughout the festival footprint.

Anything else you want to add? 

Go to to learn more – we’re making updates every day. Take a moment to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. That’s the surest way to stay current on news and festival announcements. Share One Spark with your friends and family – don’t assume they know what’s happening April 9-13. Once you’re here at the festival, vote for your favorite Creator projects! Your vote = funding for your favorite Creators. See you in April!