The trash fire that was 2016 concluded with the shutting down of some of Denver’s adored DIY spaces, most notably Rhinoceropolis and Glob. Now, Denver’s do-it-yourself artists are receiving good news.
Denver Arts & Venues is partnering with Santa Fe, New Mexico, arts production company Meow Wolf to bring $40,000 to the local scene. Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek says he hopes the money will go toward improving the safety of DIY venues in the Mile High City.
Meow Wolf’s donation of $20,000 is allotted toward the reopening of Rhinoceropolis and Glob, whereas Denver Arts & Venues is matching Meow Wolf’s investment, but focusing on supporting other DIY artists across the city. On top of this donation, artists can apply for the Meow Wolf DIY Fund, which will award $100,000 to DIY arts and music spaces around the world. (Meow Wolf is accepting applications for funding until March 15, and those looking to apply can do so here.)
“The goal is obviously to ensure safety,” says Jordan Bishop of Denver Arts & Venues. “We’re very proud of the art and creativity coming out of Denver.”
Beyond it’s monetary contribution to Denver’s art scene, there have been rumors that Meow Wolf will open a one-of-a-kind immersive art and music experience in Denver, similar to the permanent installation it opened in Santa Fe in March 2016. It’s true that Kadlubek and his team are looking to open a space in Denver, and they’re planning for it to be three to five times greater than the 20,000 square-foot House of Eternal Returns that Meow Wolf has become famous for in Santa Fe. He says they have five possible locations picked out in Denver, and one that has them “super psyched.”
“We’re moving on a [large-scale, fully immersive exhibition], but nothing is confirmed,” Kadlubek says. “In our eyes, it’s as soon as possible. We want it to be really huge and support a ton of people.”
It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Denver as a fit for Meow Wolf. Sure, the Mile High City already has an established arts scene, but it’s one that largely fails to provide a viable economic platform for its DIY artists. Nine years ago, Kadlubek and his fellow creatives saw a similar hole in Santa Fe’s artistic community. After they found a key benefactor in Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, Meow Wolf was able to grow into a for-profit company and fill a niche in Santa Fe’s art market. As of July 2016, four months after the House of Eternal Returns opened, profits from Meow Wolf’s gift shop alone were twice what they expected to earn in one year. An expansion to Denver would allow Meow Wolf to enter a market that is more than eight times larger than Santa Fe, based off the most recent U.S. Census population estimates, and provide plenty of DIY artists a viable creative outlet.
“If and when we move into the Denver market, our number one priority is to employ local artists who don’t currently have a creative economy to take part in,” Kadlubek says. “That’s our main reason for existence.”
Rhetoric only goes so far. But Meow Wolf’s actions to provide a foundation for Denver’s DIY scene are promising, and should provide plenty of excitement for those who have come to adore our city’s DIY artists.