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We randomly polled 302 attendees at the activities and learned that 45 percent were from Utah (with 19 percent local residents), 50 percent were from outside Utah (representing nearly every state across the country), and 5 percent were from outside the US. Of the total, 61 percent came specifically for the plein air event, while 39 percent happened to be visiting the park.
The most important element of the plein air event is to engage the public and help them gain a new perspective on Zion through original art. The educational and inspirational components were a huge success as attested by comments such as: “A lovely enhancement to my usual hiking and sightseeing in a national park. What an inspiration!” And: “As a non-painter I was fascinated to watch each painting take shape, as each artist interpreted the depth and light of beautiful Zion Canyon.”
It’s also a fundraiser for the Zion National Park Foundation, and as such, we engaged the art enthusiast public by inviting them to the opening gala on Friday night, where we converted the Museum Auditorium into an art gallery with more than 200 fresh new paintings on exhibit. Proceeds from the event came to ZNHA to help fund the park’s Youth Initiative and ongoing art programs in the park.
No other single event focuses the efforts of the ZNHA, park management and staff, the concessionaire, and the local community in such a meaningful and effective way. One of the original objectives was to help expand the shoulder season in Zion. Due to the success of the event, park management has extended the traditional season for the park’s shuttle transportation system. Thanks to Plein Air, November is no longer the beginning of the shoulder season. It is now an extension of the park’s main season.
Plein air had a profound impact on visitors: “This is an awesome event not only for artists, but for anyone who loves beauty.” And it highlighted the ways that private, non-profit and public entities can partner effectively for the good of Zion National Park.