Jacksonville Songwriter’s Residency
There are minds at work in this city that are discovering new ways of rallying the community and starting sparks that will ignite the culture in downtown Jacksonville.
Brad Lauretti is one of them. He arrived in Jacksonville about a year ago as a traveling musician himself. After a short artist residency of his own, at the popular local venue Underbelly, he decided to stay on as an employee at the club. Lauretti was surprised at what he found in the downtown music scene. He witnessed bands with tremendous skill play week in and week out. He quickly recognized that there is a signiﬁcant amount of great and undiscovered talent performing locally. “There’s pretty much always an amazing band playing downtown. We need to do an amazing job of communicating that,” he says.
Brad Lauretti, founder of the Jacksonville Songwriter’s Residency.
So, he began working on an idea. Instead of just being content with booking incredible bands, he came up with a plan to support musicians and help songwriters thrive in Jacksonville. By providing them with places to stay and venues to perform, they would be able to work their creative magic without getting consumed by all of the day-to-day problems that surround touring songwriters.
His plan is called the Jacksonville Songwriter’s Residency. He explains, “A residency is where an artist, or in this case a songwriter, goes someplace away from their lives, the daily grind, to work on their craft.” There have been artist residencies in the past, but the idea to focus on songwriters is unique. He hopes to eventually bring them from all over the country, especially major musical cities, as well as ﬁnd local talent that will stay and ﬂourish in their own city.
“I want to connect Jacksonville to these major music capital cities.I want Jacksonville to be a place where every musician at least wants to stop and tour here, play a show,” says Lauretti. “Hopefully some would consider moving here too.”
The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville heard Lauretti’s idea at the One Spark Festival in April 2013, and awarded him with a grant for the project. It is one of three “Spark Grants” that will dip into a pool of $61,000 in privately raised funds for help launching the projects. Lauretti wants to eventually pay the songwriters, but for now the money will be used for housing, meals, and booking venues for them to perform, as each songwriter will get to headline events sponsored by the project.
The Cultural Council is also going to be very involved in the project, providing help with logistics and promotions, in order to keep up with their vision of bringing culture that will bolster the economy downtown and reinvigorate the Spark District. This is where the songwriters will live, write, and possibly record an album. The Spark District is the urban core of downtown that is expanding and evolving into a major culture center of Jacksonville.
****The Cultural Council is proud to fund this work with privately raised grant dollars. To clarify, the inaugural round of funding includes FOUR recipients, identified through a juried grant process open to both organizations and individual artists. So exciting to see these projects taking hold in the Spark District–thanks for bringing it to light.