D.C. Spending $20,000 to Paint LGBTQ Murals on Storm Drains

Artists receiving $775 each for designs

A mural in the Anacostia section of Washington / Getty Images

The District of Columbia is spending $20,000 to pay artists to paint environmentally friendly, pro-LGBTQ murals on storm drains.

Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a “rainbow-colored crosswalk” on Friday to promote gay pride parades that are taking place in the city this weekend. Bowser announced storm drains would also be painted by local artists to “celebrate the LGBTQ identity” and the environment.

“We are installing these temporary crosswalks as a symbol of Washington, D.C.’s inclusivity and LGBTQ pride,” Bowser said. “For many years, Washington, D.C., has been a leader on LGBTQ rights, and my administration will continue pushing forward to protect and defend the rights of and expand opportunity for our LGBTQ residents. It is an honor to be part of this installation, and I look forward to joining residents from across D.C. at the Capital Pride Parade.”

Bowser’s office said the rainbow crosswalks are temporary in order to “comply with federal standards.”

“In order to create a more permanent installation, community members are currently working with [the Department of Energy and Environment] DOEE and the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) to commission artists to paint storm drains with murals that celebrate the neighborhood’s LGBTQ identity,” the mayor’s office said.

The project is a joint effort by the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the Anacostia Watershed Society, and several D.C. city departments, including transportation, energy, and the Office of Planning.

A spokesperson for the Anacostia Watershed Society said the organization received a “Community Stormwater Solutions” grant totaling $20,000 from the D.C. government to fund the project. Each artist will receive a $775 commission for their designs.

A total of four 10-foot long murals will be painted on storm drains on 17th street this summer, and the group will issue another call for artists to paint 12 additional murals this fall. Artists have until June 16 to apply to receive a commission.

“The goal of these murals is to both raise awareness of storm drains as a connection to our local waterways and promote the neighborhood’s LGBTQ identity,” the Anacostia Watershed Society said. Aside from the $775 commission, artists will also receive painting materials.

“Design themes should include diversity, inclusivity, and should celebrate the LGBTQ identity of the neighborhood,” the organization said.

The murals must also “incorporate an environmental theme and include the text: #TrashFreeDC.”

Restrictions include that the mural designs cannot use the drain entrance as a “mouth” of any animal or person. Murals must also be “applied using environmentally-friendly paint.”

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