With purchase set, Emerson Center seeks to own lawn debt-free

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 20:08:22-04

BOZEMAN – On June 1, the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture will close its purchase of the Emerson Lawn from the Bozeman School District, to the tune of $1,275,100. But the Center needs to raise $300,000 more in order to do it debt-free.

"We had no idea a year ago, that we would be working to buy the lawn,” said Susan Denson-Guy, executive director at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture.

Fast forward to a year later, and that’s exactly what happened.

When the Bozeman School District, which owns two-thirds of the Emerson lawn, announced its plans to sell the Lawn, the Emerson Center decided to act fast, out-bidding other offers by $100.

"We knew that it was an extraordinary amount of money to pay for the lawn, but we also knew it was an investment for Bozeman,” Denson-Guy said. “We did our best to work with our community to make the project possible."

The Emerson Center raised almost all of the money necessary through community donations. The purchase on June 1 will go through no matter what, thanks to donors who can loan that extra money if necessary.  But as a non-profit, the Emerson hopes to come out of the purchase without any loans to repay.

"Before we could even put in the bid, we had an incredible group of donors that came together that said, ‘We’ll help you write the final check as a bridge loan,’” said Denson-Guy. “So, what we’ve done is we have worked as hard as we can with our community engaging everybody to raise the money. We’re set to write the check, but we would like to write the check debt free," she said.

The fundraising doesn’t end on June 1st. The Emerson Cultural Center hopes to raise a little bit more money so that they can carry out their development plans for the lawn’s future.

The vision for the lawn includes a semi-permanent stage, a continuation of the sculpture garden along the north side of the lawn, and a perimeter that will feature commissioned artists’ work.

Denson-Guy said the Emerson Center will need to raise an additional $1 million to eventually complete their vision for the lawn.

Donations for the closing purchase of the Lawn will be accepted until 11:30 a.m. on June 1. To donate, click here.