Over the years, Utahns haven’t been invited to have an intentional conversation about the flag’s design.
WHY NOT CHANGE THE FLAG?
The flag most Utahns grew up with was an “unauthorized” design with the date – 1847 – added incorrectly by a seamstress under the state seal. That error was replicated for nearly 90 years, until the Utah Legislature corrected the design in 2011.
Considering the incremental nature of past updates offers a springboard to something new: The More Than A Flag initiative. Why is this effort relevant now? In a recent survey, residents said while they liked the current flag – they didn’t think it represented them.
THE MORE THAN A FLAG INITIATIVE
This year, as part of an intentional statewide conversation, residents were invited to submit themes and colors that would represent our state. The effort invokes vox populi, the Latin phrase for “voice of the people,” to create the “people’s flag,” similar to the way the Utah State Capitol functions as the “people’s house.”
By the April 30 deadline, more than 7,000 flag ideas, including 5,703 designs, had been submitted from every county in the state. More than 1,000 designs were hand-drawn flags submitted by students. “I get teary-eyed when I think of all these people helping design the flag,” says Rep. Elizabeth Weight, of the Utah State Flag Task Force, about all those submissions.
HEARING UTAH VOICES
A popular color palette for a new Utah flag was the traditional red, white and blue, with some designs additionally sparked with golden yellow. Another color scheme contrasted sky blue with red-rock orange, paired with white to symbolize snow-capped mountains.
Here are the elements residents ranked as most significant:
- Utah’s pioneer history as the Beehive state, with bees symbolizing “Industry,” the state’s theme.
- Symbols, such as stars or circles, representing Utah’s eight Tribal nations.
- Another big Utah idea: Residents are proud of our state’s varied landscape.
TIMELINE: WHAT’S NEXT?
In June and July, artists, volunteer artists, designers, educators, and historians on the Design Review Subcommittee considered submitted concepts. Several dozen designs were presented to a separate group of flag designers, to create “flag-ready” images.
By late August, some 20 flags will be posted for public feedback. These designs will also be printed as flags for short exhibits and media events in September.
In the fall, the Design Review Subcommittee will select three final designs. And then a new Utah state flag design will be considered for adoption by the task force, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, and the Utah Legislature.
ROOTED IN HISTORY
The current state flag design most likely won’t go away. In a nod to Utah history, the flag may again be labeled as the Governor’s flag.