1Spark Festival of Entrepreneurship, Arts to Ignite Creativity, Innovation

August 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

Spartanburg is a place of ideas, shining bright with creative and entrepreneurial spirit. On Saturday, Sept. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the public is invited to participate in a free outdoor festival that will celebrate these two powerful forces that make the moniker “Sparkle City” ever so true.

1Spark, a festival where creativity and innovation collide, will feature Spartanburg’s “makers” — visual artists, performers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and more — with entertainment and demonstrations, as well as local food and drinks. The event will take place between the campuses of Chapman Cultural Center and “The George” — home of the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at USC Upstate — an almost literal collision of creativity and innovation.

“Spartanburg is already known throughout the region as a vibrant arts community, and nationwide as a pro-business community,” Jennifer Evins, president/CEO of Chapman Cultural Center, said. “What better way to celebrate two of our most valuable assets than to combine them into a single concept and event?”

Artists, entrepreneurs, and inventors will have booths in the Chapman Cultural Center parking lot and along North Liberty Street to showcase their crafts and concepts. Inventors, start-up businesses, and budding entrepreneurs will be set up alongside painters, woodworkers, bakers, photographers, potters, and other visual artists whose works are locally handmade.

“In business, creativity is necessary to survive and thrive,” Dr. Frank Rudisill, dean of The Johnson College of Business and Economics, said. “The ability to use resources in creative ways is what propels many companies to be forerunners in innovation. 1Spark is a wonderful way to ignite collaboration and generate new ideas in Spartanburg.”

Several vendors have already signed on to be present: master kitemaker Chuck Holmes, Orijin Tea, CORE Health Centers, Freda Lark Photography, Harmonic Jewel metalsmithing jeweler, ahoyDOC Inc., and novelist Andrew F. Rickis. Others are signing up daily to join in the festivities.

“Our goals are to celebrate all things entrepreneurial and creative about Spartanburg… to ignite new creativity and innovation by connecting people and ideas… to create the kind of city that we want by providing a festival for people to share ideas,” Evins said. “It will be a dynamic setting in the heart of our city.”

While at the festival, attendees will enjoy hearing musicians perform on stage of the amphitheatre at The George, watching entrepreneurs give demos, seeing artisans showcase their artistic process, and engaging in creativity challenges. Attendees will also vote for their favorite artist, entrepreneur, and inventor.

Jeff Boeh, campus manager of The Iron Yard, the downtown business accelerator, emphasizes the importance of exposure to local start-up businesses. “Our hope is that the public will walk away from 1Spark with a newly ignited interest in and appreciation of the creativity and innovation involved in starting a business in Spartanburg. To that goal, several entrepreneurs and start-ups will have the opportunity to demonstrate their ideas, plans, and — ultimately — their products and services.”

Attendees to the festival will be able to use the businesses’ demos as inspiration in creativity challenges. Presented with real-world problems, several festival goers will be asked to generate solutions using provided materials. The activity will not only give citizens a renewed appreciation of entrepreneurship, but generate ideas on how to improve the community at-large.

Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM) will help patrons generate ideas on how to improve the community as well with a public art project. Drawing inspiration from modern installation artist Candy Chang, SAM will facilitate a simple, fun, and interactive experience titled “More of What?” The activity offers individuals of all ages an opportunity to reflect and share ideas about how to nurture a stronger, more creative community in Spartanburg.

“As cultural stewards, we have a responsibility to address the needs of our community,” Elizabeth Goddard, executive director of SAM, said. “Businesses do the same; they address need. And as a whole, Spartanburg can achieve that by putting our ideas together.”

Growler Haus, a recently established craft beer business and bar downtown, will be on tap to provide a biergarten (or “beer garden”)–an open area for adults to enjoy local brews.

Florida-based chalk artists and entrepreneurs will also be present. Shane Mesmer of Eye Candy Grafix in West Palm Beach will be joined by artists David Lepore, Hector Diaz, and Lee Mobley in conducting a unique work of chalk art on Chapman Cultural Center’s campus. The four-person project will span two days, beginning early Friday morning and coming to completion during the span of the festival. Lepore specializes in black and white; Diaz is a 3D chalk expert; and Mobley is a “chalker” who operates 337 Designs, a custom artwork and design company.

Other visual and performing arts will entertain audiences throughout the festival as well. Musicians include Anna V, Neil Lee Griffin, Jeremy Willis, Sean Gaskell, Daniel Z, Nick Evangelista, Rohn Jewell, Barleycove, Paul Bowman, and Mark Miller. Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra will feature a cellist at 11:30 a.m., and professional dancers from Ballet Spartanburg will take the stage at 1:30 p.m.

To complement the creativity and innovation, local food trucks will be located between Chapman Cultural Center and The George to provide great local cuisine.

“We’re about entrepreneurship. We’re about art. We’re about education. We’re about ideas,” Evins said. “1Spark will be a great way to encourage innovation and creativity by bringing the arts and businesses together.”

Major partners in the festival include Chapman Cultural Center, USC Upstate’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, The Iron Yard, Growler Haus, and Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, please call (864) 542-ARTS.