(You’ll enjoy this blog more if you listen to “Walking On a Dream” by Empire of the Sun while reading it)
Two years ago the Young Professionals started an event called Saturday Night Live. Once a quarter we would gather at a local coffee shop and have a night of live music and fun. What made the night so special is that the people that performed were our own Young Professionals. We have a lot of musical talent in our group and so Saturday Night Live became a great way for our Young Professionals to creatively express themselves through song and spoken word. About a year ago we switched the name from Saturday Night Live to Canvas Live. Kurt Hawthorne (worship pastor at SCC) does a great event called Canvas Live at Southpoint Community Church twice a year. We decided to switch the name of our event and hopefully create a bigger footprint as the event grew.
In January 2011, we had our first Saturday Night Live event and crammed 70 people in a small coffee shop for a couple of hours. Six months later we switched to the Starbucks on Hodges and JTB. Over time, Canvas Live started to incorporate different elements. We typically had 4-6 performances over the course of the night. We added dancing and live painting to the event in 2013. In September 2013 we had over 200 people come out to Canvas at Starbucks which was a huge night for us.
Eventually one of our Young Professionals (Jackie Schwartz) inquired about using the Town Center (gigantic outdoor mall) as a location to do future Canvas Live events. A couple of weeks later we had a meeting with the Director of Marketing at the Town Center and were able to secure a December 6th as the date for our first Canvas Live at Town Center. This was a big deal. There are thousands of people that traffic the Town Center on any given Friday/Saturday night. Having our artists and musicians perform in front of that many people really made things exciting for our group.
Fast forward to the present. Canvas Live at The Town Center happened a couple of weeks ago and it was a HIT! We had 16 musical performances and 15 artists that came out and did live paintings. It was a full on production that was quite different than what we’ve done in the past at our Canvas’ at Starbucks. We had over 800 people at the event! It was packed! The Town Center was so impressed with the event that they invited us to do Canvas Live at their location 4-5 times a year! Unbelievable.
Our vision is to make this a mini art & musical festival in Jacksonville. We want to promote music and art among young professionals all over the city. A lot of people complain that Jacksonville doesn’t have anything for the arts. They say that the music scene here is weak compared to Austin, New Orleans, or Nashville. I say they’re right, but we shouldn’t just hang our heads and wish we lived in another city. We have a blank canvas in front of us. It’s up to us to decide what we want to paint. We have an incredible opportunity to create something special that helps to foster the art and music in Jacksonville in a fresh way that is relevant and exciting. It’s a huge blessing to partner with the St. John’s Town Center. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Canvas Live.
I’m Harold Dorrell Briscoe. Thanks for reading.