Artists, vendors wanted for downtown projects

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, February 13, 2020

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SPARC has released details on more opportunities for creative people and businesses in Suffolk to get involved.

SPARC — Suffolk’s Premier Art, Retail and Cultural — Initiative is a Suffolk-based nonprofit that’s committed to the revitalization of downtown.

Submissions are now being accepted for phase two of the trash can art project. This project was sponsored last summer through a Suffolk Foundation grant. Six trash cans in downtown Suffolk were beautified with eye-catching designs by several local Hampton Roads artists and the Suffolk Rocks group.

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Carolyn Phillips, executive director for the SPARC Initiative, said the first phase of this project made a “visible impact” downtown, with positive feedback from members of the Suffolk community.

“It was very positive for a smaller-scale public art project,” Phillips said.

The second phase of this project invites even more groups and individual artists to beautify trash cans in downtown Suffolk. This will once again be sponsored by the Suffolk Foundation, with artist stipends and supplies provided to artists selected for this project.

“We’d like (designs) that are different than (what) we already have,” Phillips said, adding that she wants artists to be creative and use their imagination to create designs that “exhibit their own personal style.”

SPARC is also planning for the second annual SPARC Fest on June 6, with opportunities for local vendors to participate, such as local businesses, organizations and creative professionals who sell “handmade or upcycled works,” the press release states.

The inaugural SPARC Fest held last September had an estimated attendance of 500 to 1,000 people, Phillips said, with great live music, tasty food, vendors and the unveiling of the South Main Street Train Station Public Art Project, which decorated the historic Northwestern Train Station.

“The community really liked it, (and) the businesses that participated in it also thought it was very lucrative for them,” Phillips said.

Because SPARC Fest celebrates downtown Suffolk, vendors that are based or otherwise connected to downtown are encouraged to apply, but any vendor that is based in Hampton Roads is invited to join, as well.

“This year we’d like to see attendance grow,” Phillips said. “We’d like to see some more vendors, and we’d like a different type of hands-on, public art activity.”

Visit for more information about the trash can art project and SPARC Fest, along with applications for interested parties. Applications for the downtown art project are due by March 30, while vendor applications for SPARC Fest are due by April 30.

The SPARC Shoppe at OnePast7, 100 N. Main St., represents more than 40 local artists and has space for more, according to the press release. Artisans who are interested in renting space to sell merchandise, and artists interested in leasing subsidized studio space, should contact Operations Manager Cri Tiffany at

For more information about the SPARC Initiative, contact Carolyn Phillips by emailing or calling 338-0812.