By Julia Barton EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BOZEMAN — An artist-designed obstacle course race will be taking place in Bozeman’s Northeast Neighborhood on July 31 to support more affordable housing in the area. The event, dubbed the SUPER FUN(-draiser), aims to connect artists and locals to work together and raise funds for Bozeman’s affordable housing dilemma.
The northeast side of Bozeman is home to an abundance of contemporary artists, creating a lively and nimble atmosphere in the shadow of the Bridger Mountains. Known for its industrial past, the area was attractive to artists due to the low cost of studio spaces. But, as the Northeast Neighborhood grew in popularity, so did the cost of rental and building spaces, making it more difficult for artists to enter the neighborhood.
Artists with established roots decided to dig in even deeper to keep the vibrancy alive. Among them is Sahra Beaupré, co-owner of Echo Arts, a gallery located in the northeast side.
Beaupré and a number of other creatives who landed their galleries, studios and pop-ups in the neighborhood came together to form the Bozeman Arts District, the organization hosting SUPER FUN. The event came about as a way for artists to connect with the community and put their creativity toward finding solutions for the lack of affordable housing in Bozeman.
“It’s a conversation and situation most of Bozeman has felt the strain of here for a long time,” said Beaupré in regards to affordable housing. “I thought that doing something really fun that engaged many facets of the community… would be a really good way to turn the conversation into something productive.”
The burden of housing solutions shouldn’t just lay upon the backs of developers or policymakers, Beaupré explained, hoping that utilizing artists’ creativity can spur a wider conversation in the Bozeman community.
SUPER FUN aims not only to raise funds and generate conversation, but also provide the community with an extra fun event during this summer’s Northside Stroll. The bi-annual stroll welcomes the community into the neighborhood with live music and events, featuring the local businesses residing there.
The SUPER FUN event will take the shape of a race open to people of all ages through artist-designed obstacles commissioned by BAD. The race will take participants through the Northeast Neighborhood and have a winner based on time as well as awards for things like best outfit. The theme is retro Bozeman t-shirts or outfits corresponding to when housing was more affordable.
“I have a lot of friends who have been here for 20 years and they make a decent living but still, they’re getting priced out,” said one of the featured artists, Shaw Thompson. “They can’t afford to buy a house here.” Thompson’s art comes out of one of the most iconic buildings in the area, a grain elevator built in the 1930s, called the Misco Mill.
Thompson has been on the northeast side for two decades and has seen the affordable housing problem develop over the years. Although he specialized in handcrafted furniture that utilizes salvaged objects, Thompson is creating a unique, pyramid-esque obstacle as part of the fundraiser.
Children can race for free and adults must pay a $20 entrance fee, however, racers must sign up prior to the event. Participants will decide the benefactor for all of the proceeds by voting after the race, all of the options being related to affordable housing and many of them creative solutions provided by the local artists.
“However you confront the obstacle, whether you’re five or 50, and whether you have a skateboard or you are in a wheelchair, we hope that the little jog will be exciting for everybody,” said Beaupré.
The race will be open for one hour starting at noon on July 31, and the Northside Stroll will follow from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
To register for the race or to donate, visit bozemanartdistrict.com/superfun. Outlaw Partners is a sponsor of this event.