- Banners proclaiming the U Street/Logan/Shaw neighborhoods the DC Arts District went up this week. (Photo: TBD Staff)
The banners are up! The banners are up!
If you need to ask which banners, you haven't been paying very close attention. These are the light pole signs associated with the Arts District branding campaign, a city-funded effort to group together the neighborhoods of Logan Circle, Shaw, U Street, and parts of Dupont under an umbrella identity associated with the arts.
Installation of the banners — with the at-last finalized "DC Arts District" or "DCAD" name — began on Thursday, and will continue for the next several days, according to branding project team leader Andrea Doughty.
While the designs on each individual banner vary, there are three main concepts that ended up being included: the "city grid" scheme that plays with lines and dots to look like streets and traffic circles; the "radiating district map" that places the arts district on an outline of D.C.; and "modern art circles," which are fairly self-explanatory. Most of the banners also include the phrases "U Street," "Logan," and "Shaw," although some of them that will be placed closer to Dupont will not include those neighborhood names, Doughty says.
The deployment of these banners has not come without controversy, with members of the MidCity Business Association at one point accusing the branding team of usurping the association's own plans to place banners along the 14th and U corridors.
More recently, the issue came up again before Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B, which opted to postpone until next month a vote to allow the banners to hang for more than 90 days. Should ANC 1B opt not to approve the project, it could lead to a situation where there are banners up for an entire year in most of the area, but not along U Street itself, which falls under 1B's jurisdiction. ANCs 2B, 2C, and 2F have already signed off on the project.
On Dec. 21, Doughty sent ANC 1B chairwoman E. Gail Anderson Holness a letter explaining that DDOT had gone ahead and issued public space permits to hang the banners for up to 90 days, so the project was a go, at least in the short term, even without the ANC's support.
"Should ANC 1B elect to support the one year banner installation period, we remain prepared to work flexibly with any organization, including the Business Association, to relocate banners within that period if another organization has banners that it wishes to install. Should ANC 1B choose not to support the one year installation period for the Arts District banners, then those banners located in the ANC 1B area will be removed in 90 days’ time (ie. on or before March 22, 2011)," reads the letter.