Located in the transforming neighborhood of Brooklyn, the First Coast’s newest amphitheater and urban park is the missing link of Jacksonville’s cultural trail. It is a space driven by connectivity and celebration of our fantastic community. We asked Jen Jones and the team at Unity Plaza to share with us what this visionary project is all about as a vibrant addition to our urban core.
How was the idea of Unity Plaza born?
At its core, Unity Plaza was born from a need to bring Jacksonville together in a totally inclusive way to reflect back to us our amazing community, in order to see how much we have and are as a city in which to be proud, thus revealing our civic identity, increasing our civic pride and communal civic awareness. Jacksonville needs a place to hang out, which intentionally reminds us that we are a phenomenal city on the move.
What is the purpose of Unity Plaza as a public space?
Unity Plaza is a two-fold entity. It is a public gathering space comprised of an amphitheater, community meeting room and outdoor space in the heart of Jacksonville’s urban neighborhoods, as well as a nonprofit organization that provides free and fee-based activities rooted in lively community engagement, cultural enrichment and wellness activities. This entity also provides site rental, event planning and facilities management for the venue. The place and the purpose work hand-in-hand to provide a public setting where the entire community can relax and unwind, while also creating opportunities for people to discover, connect and celebrate causes, cultural organizations and the hidden gems that make this city such a spectacular place to call home. As a fellow nonprofit and cultural organization, Unity Plaza also aims to work closely with our city’s critical non-profit entities to expand their network and accelerate their missions to meet the social needs required for Jacksonville to be its happiest and healthiest.
Why do you think the First Coast needs a space like this?
We need open play spaces that fundamentally make us happy and bring our city together to amplify our community’s core values…specifically through fun, musical, artful, moving and dynamic cultural experiences.
Imagine a typical day at Unity Plaza ten years from now. What do you see?
People playing and having an amazing time in their own ways to refuel. Some practicing yoga and tai chi, others watching live music, lounging near the open-air library, getting involved in the activities taking place there every day. People strolling and eating delicious food and enjoying local brews and great wine and spirits, bikeshare booming out front on Riverside Avenue…OH we have plans!
Primarily, I see Unity Plaza by day as a place to let your hair down, where folks can get out from behind their desks to get a little sunshine on their faces, eat their lunch and take advantage of a space that provides peace and community comradery. By evening, Unity Plaza becomes a space of celebration; dinner on the patio while children play outside, a good book in an inviting and cozy nook, folks playing chess and ping-pong while young couples sway to music.
If there is one thing you want people to know about Unity Plaza, what is it?
Love this question. Unity Plaza is an amphitheater and urban park where Jacksonville’s culture and community can connect to create the perfect storm of awesomeness!
Just visit unityplaza.org to start.