What’s next for Meow Wolf? | Local News


DENVER – Meow Wolf has opened 2021 with no ticketing revenue since March 2020, COVID-19 was at its highest rate of spread across the country and no one really knew when visitors might return to the experiential arts society House of the Eternal Return in Santa Fé.

Nine months later, COVID-19 is back on the march, but so is Meow Wolf.

Santa Fe’s arts juggernaut has surged forward, drawing more than 256,000 visitors since it opened in Santa Fe in March, reveling in a successful opening in Las Vegas, Nevada, with over 600 000 tickets sold since February and a big debut in Denver with 110,000 tickets sold when it opens Friday.

Meow Wolf now has nearly 1,000 employees in three states after falling to 270 at the lowest in coronavirus lockdowns a year ago. The company now has nearly 500 workers in Santa Fe at its creative engine of the South Side and the House of Eternal Return, with over 250 new employees each in Las Vegas and Denver.

Meow Wolf is not disclosing revenue figures, but Las Vegas and Santa Fe have generated around $ 38 million in ticket revenue this year so far based on attendance figures and an average of ticket prices from. Las Vegas at $ 50 each and Santa Fe at $ 30 each. Denver tickets already sold add an additional $ 5 million based on the price of the $ 45 tickets. Meow Wolf also earns income from concerts, gift shops and food service.

Yet the question remains: where will the next quantum leap take place?

For the first time in nearly four years, no next expansion for Meow Wolf has been announced. The company has been silent on the future beyond the opening Friday in Denver, which was first announced in January 2018 with Las Vegas.

“Very soon we will be able to talk about the future,” said Ali Rubinstein, one of three CEOs of Meow Wolf in what the company calls OCEO, or CEO’s office.

Rubinstein and fellow co-CEO Carl Christensen revealed some clues during an exclusive interview with The New Mexican following a media event Monday in Denver before the opening of Convergence station.

Christensen said more than 100 potential locations across the country had been screened, but he and Rubinstein gave no indication of how many states or cities were seriously considered.

But don’t expect Meow Wolf in Paris anytime soon.

“We are looking seriously at the national level for now with a future eye on the international,” said Rubinstein.

In the meantime, fallout from a cataclysmic 2020 remains. But the Meow Wolf Creative Stores in the former Caterpillar tractor building were busy building future exhibits, and key executives were continuing a four-year process to transform an operation from motley artists that opened its doors. House of the Eternal Return in 2016 into an efficient, organized and professional operation capable of producing massive installations such as Convergence station.

“We looked at scaling,” said Rubinstein, using the word to describe how the company’s work has evolved into being able to build new facilities in three or four or five or more new cities at the times instead of one or two.

Meow Wolf has resisted silent cash registers throughout the pandemic’s first year with funding available from 87 investors who pledged $ 158 million for Meow Wolf in May 2019, Christensen said.

“Some of these funds have helped us continue with Las Vegas and Denver and have helped us stay alive during the pandemic,” he added. “We have the capacity to continue. There is certainly a plan in place to fund our future. We are confident in our ability to grow.

The pandemic has also seen 130 Meow Wolf employees successfully organize. The Meow Wolf Workers Collective, Communications Workers of America Local 7055, now has 145 members, but a contract has yet to be ratified, said Carrie Taylor, a member of the organizing committee.

“The first contract is always so difficult,” Taylor said. “There has been some very positive progress in the negotiations recently. Working conditions have not changed, but there is now hope that some changes may materialize. “

Even with union organizing in 2020, attractions in Las Vegas and Denver opened in 2021 as planned, but those cities were not included in the Meow Wolf Workers Collective.

“We worked really hard to make sure we were finally able to do it,” Rubinstein said. “It was not an option for that not to happen. We all had to pass. We consolidated the team with the same goal.

And create the four floors, 90,000 square feet Convergence station in Denver was a monumental challenge, led by Sean Di Ianni, one of the six founders of Meow Wolf in 2008.

“Denver was always on our radar, even when we were a collective,” Di Ianni told Convergence station. “Denver has always been close to our hearts.”

Di Ianni has stumbled upon the most unlikely terrain for a major attraction: a forgotten industrial site with a remaining warehouse – a former Midwest Steel site – wedged between elevated Colfax Avenue and an elevated, curving ramp.

“When I first saw this site I said, ‘Oh my gosh that’s impossible,’” said Di Ianni, calling on a refrain that the Meow Wolf artists have probably repeated throughout. of the company’s history. “But I like it. All transportation [around it] inspired the theme of the show. We love it because it didn’t move anyone or block anyone’s view. We love this urban infill site.

The structure was designed by SAR +, a Denver architectural firm.

“Meow Wolf brought an extremely ambitious vision to Denver,” Ryan Meeks, senior partner at SAR +, wrote in an email. “This site would be illogical for most buildings, but for Meow Wolf it creates the perfect exterior impression. For everyone on the team, this was an unprecedented project. Meow Wolf trusted the team [and] which ultimately resulted in some extremely creative solutions. This project was created out of a pure desire to make it real.

Transportation is the first surreal experience of even getting to Convergence station. The Interstate 25 route requires visitors to go through Meow Wolf and back through part of Metropolitan State University and hide under an overpass.

“We were inspired by public transport and transportation,” said Di Ianni. “This site itself is a convergence of the Platte River, the highway and a highway.”

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