Arts United announced today the 2024 Mayor’s Arts Award recipient. Recipients of the Mayor’s Arts Award are individuals, organizations, and projects that have greatly impacted arts and culture in the city of Fort Wayne. 


This year’s recipient is Clean Drains Fort Wayne: Be River SmART.


Friends of the Rivers and Fort Wayne City Utilities collaborated on a three-year initiative, Be River SmART, using art to visually represent the importance of keeping Fort Wayne’s three rivers clean. Clean Drains: Be River SmART is a collection of artistic endeavors that introduced a new public art concept–sidewalk murals. In total, 95 storm drain sidewalk murals and 4,800 storm drain medallions were installed throughout Downtown Fort Wayne, along trailways, and in the city’s four neighborhood quadrants. In addition to the visual art components of this project, percussive musicians known as the Dumpster Drummers reached over 7,000 students with their unique storytelling emphasizing “Only Rain in the Drain.” The culmination of Be River SmART was the legacy mural, Protect our Rivers, designed by Alex Hall. The legacy mural was dedicated on September 23, 2023, at the Clean Drains Riverfest event held at Promenade Park which brought together 4,000 individuals and families to celebrate the initiative and honor our rivers.


“It’s a highlight of mine each year to choose the recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award in partnership with Arts United. Our attention to the importance of arts and culture is vital to the identity of our community. It says a lot about who we are and where we’re going,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Congratulations to the Clean Drains Fort Wayne: Be River SmART initiative. Friends of the Rivers and City Utilities put together a highly successful effort to raise awareness about storm drains and clean rivers through art.”


Clean Drains Fort Wayne: Be River SmART will be honored with the Mayor’s Arts Award at the 2024 Arts United Awards, presented by Frosty Pictures. The ceremony will occur on March 20, 2024, where Jody Hemphill Smith will be recognized posthumously with the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award.


To learn more about the 2024 Arts United Awards and view a full list of nominees, visit