Arts District Branding Project Still Running Into Questions
Not to bring up an old issue or anything, but the “D.C. Arts District” neighborhood branding project just keeps hitting speedbumps.
Initially, the project team said it would have the banners up by December 1, with a festival of sorts early in the month. That got pushed back as the design process took longer than anticipated. In addition, they need to get ANC approval to leave the street banners up for more than 90 days, and local civic associations like to be consulted as well.
ANCs 2F, 2C, and 2B signed off on the banners, but the U Street Neighborhood Association declined to endorse the initiative. And after some tough questioning at its Thursday meeting, ANC IB failed to endorse it as well, instead postponing the issue until its January meeting, which leaves the choice of whether to allow banners to stay up longer than 90 days up to a newly-elected Commission.
The unfriendly action came at the behest of the 9:30 Club’s Jean Homza, who apprised commissioners of the Midcity Business Association’s objection to the branding project—members believe that Councilmember Jack Evans supported the $200,0000 grant thinking it was going to the Business Association, when in fact it was going to a collection of residents associations.
“The Midcity Business Association was in the middle of its own banner project,” Homza said. “This is usurping all of that.”
Commissioners, who had approved the idea in concept some time ago, were surprised that the issue had gotten so contentious, and told project lead Andrea Doughty to try to reconcile with the Business Association.
“Leaders in our community are up in arms and very upset,” said commissioner Deborah Thomas. “I don't know why it's not working….Find a way. Get it together.”
Meanwhile, Doughty says that events planned to help launch the Arts District are still in the works.
“There are numerous activities planned as part of the grant project that will be taking place in December, January, February and March,” she wrote in an email later. “There will be public announcements about each of these at the appropriate time.”