Oxford Street has been given a bold makeover, with a rainbow stretching across the iconic strip to honour 35 years of Mardi Gras.
The colourful crossing at Taylor Square is in place in time for this year’s festival parade on 2 March, which will be the biggest ever with 10,000 participants and 108 floats.
It was painted overnight, with work completed and Oxford Street reopened at 5am to provide a brilliant ‘good morning’ for visitors, locals and workers along the iconic street.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the rainbow would help make Oxford Street the No.1 destination for the tens out thousands of people visiting Sydney for Mardi Gras.
“The City is determined to support local businesses along Oxford Street. This time of year is a vital opportunity for the cafes, shops, galleries and other small businesses and we want to make sure all eyes are on this iconic strip,” the Lord Mayor said
“Along with our colourful rainbow banners, our artwork on the former T2 building, the flower installations in Taylor Square and a pop-up Mardi Gras museum, the new rainbow crossing will make Oxford Street an unmissable sight.”
Mardi Gras is a visual spectacle that attracts almost 400,000 people each year and injects about $30 million into the NSW economy.
The City of Sydney painted the rainbow crossing as part of its ongoing support for Mardi Gras, which included $400,000 for the festival in 2013 and 2014, as well as $252,700 of in-kind sponsorship.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik said the rainbow crossing is a bold and beautiful tribute to Sydney’s GLTB communities.
“It further cements Sydney Mardi Gras in the heart of Oxford Street itself,” Mr Rolik said.
Rainbow crossings were first installed in West Hollywood in 2012 ahead of the GLTB Pride celebrations there in June, and public support has been very positive. The rainbow crosswalks in West Hollywood have created such a positive buzz, Hollywood tour buses now detour to make them part of the show.
LA-based artist Martin Duvander, who first raised the idea with the Mayor of West Hollywood, said the rainbow crosswalks were a milestone for the GLTB movement.
“The sheer impact and the enormous visibility of the global message they send are truly immeasurable,” Mr Duvander said.
“I’m humbled that Sydney will have its own rainbow crosswalk, and I have complete admiration for those who have driven this initiative and made it a reality.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the rainbow crossing was also a fitting tribute to one of Australia’s most significant cultural events.
“This year we’re celebrating how much Sydney’s GLBT community has achieved and how much Mardi Gras has contributed to making our city the inclusive, accepting and safe place it is today,” the Lord Mayor said
“Thirty-five years ago the first Mardi Gras set off from this very spot. What began as a street celebration ended with a protest march, violence and arrests, and a renewal of the campaign for equal rights.
“We owe much to those brave ’78ers who took part and continued their activism, inspiring many others.
“We’ve come a long way since then and I hope this rainbow crossing will be a source of pride for everyone in our community.”
The crossing in Oxford Street, for which the City obtained Roads and Maritime Services approval, was painted using the same hard-wearing and non-skid material used to mark bus lanes.
The painting is initially for a trial period, during which time any issues relating to safety for pedestrians, traffic, or the local business and residential community will be monitored.
For more information contact Jo Wathen, Media and Communications, City of Sydney on 0438 669 650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or email email@example.com