ST. GEORGE – Dixie State’s new mascot may be making multiple appearances across St. George in the future. During a City Council work meeting Thursday, city officials were presented with a potential and colorful way to promote the university and the city, as well as the area’s arts community.
A project called “A Bison’s Trail” was presented to the council by Jordon Sharp, Dixie State’s chief of marketing and communications officer. The project, which is in the preliminary stages, is a “bison art project,” Sharp said.
Mirroring what other universities have done, Dixie State University would purchase a number of fiberglass statues of its mascot, Brooks the Bison, to be used as public canvases for area artists. The painted statues could then be sponsored by area businesses and organizations and displayed across town.
“We want to do this not for ourselves and our students but for our community as well,” Sharp said.
Potential sponsorships were presented in two possible tiers. The first allows a business to sponsor a statue, and in return, the business will be featured on a plaque by the statue and also on a website detailing the Bison’s Trail project. Access to the university’s various arts and cultural-based events would also be provided to the sponsor.
The second tier grants the same benefits of the first, with the additional option for a sponsor to buy the statue outright.
Along with a plaque featuring the sponsoring party, statues will feature three other plaques: one with details about the artist and two others for the City of St. George and Dixie State.
It is believed the project will promote St. George, the university, businesses and the arts community, Sharp said.
“What we’re hoping for: We want all the money from this project to fund university town and gown projects,” Sharp said.
“Town and gown projects” were described as ventures made between a university and the city it resides in that promote and benefit both. A way money from Bison Trail sponsorships could be used is to replace the Dixie State banners on St. George Boulevard when needed or aid the city with branding efforts.
And when it comes to the benefits to the artists involved, Sharp said they would likely be given $500 for the project, plus the plaque on the statue’s base providing publicity for their work.
“We’re been getting calls all day from artists that want to do this,” Sharp said, adding that Dixie State has already in contact with area artists and related groups, including Art Around the Corner.
Anyone can apply once the project is underway, Sharp said. However, he added that they hope to get a mix of applicants from the Dixie State student body, individual artists and interested arts groups.
While details of the project itself were discussed, the main issue Sharp brought to the City Council was where the statues could be legally placed.
Members of City Council and city staff expressed support of the project and said approving potential locations likely wouldn’t be an issue as far as city property is concerned. As for private property, university officials will need to work with the property owners themselves.
The main concern related to any potential location in the city — public or private — is making sure the statues aren’t set in places that hinder pedestrian and motorist right of way. Other than that, no objections were voiced by the council or staff.
Potential locations in St. George include the center of roundabouts, Ancestor Square, the Zion Outlets, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Vernon Worthen Park, Town Square and The Pioneer Center for the Arts, along with other public parks and areas and private businesses.
“I like it,” City Manager Gary Esplin said. “It think it’s a great opportunity to mix the city and university together. It’s a logical extension of the relationship we have. Finding sites shouldn’t be an issue.”
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