Meow Wolf’s Art World Raises Millions Highlighting Creative Economy’s Potential. Houston, take note! (Part 1)

Meow who? Wolf, Meow Wolf. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment group that is attracting audiences of all ages in its immersive art world.

Meow Wolf is comprised of over 400 employees creating and supporting art across a variety of media, including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, video production, cross-reality (AR/VR/MR), music, audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming, performance, and more!

Meow Wolf creates immersive and interactive experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. This includes art installations, video and music production, and extended reality content.

 

Their first permanent installation, the THEA Award-winning House of Eternal Return, (HOER) launched in March 2016 with support from Game of Thrones creator, George R.R. Martin. Inside, guests discover a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and an expansive narrative amidst surreal, maximalist, and mesmerizing art exhibits. Located in Santa Fe, HOER features a children’s learning center, a cafe and bar, and a music venue.

ImpactAlpha called this choose-your-own adventure, art installation, “one of the most successful examples of the creative economy.”

Meow Wolf champions otherness, weirdness, challenging norms, radical inclusion, and the power of creativity to change the world. Houston, are you listening?

Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return

Legally registered as a public benefit corporation and certified as a Benefit Corporation, or B Corp, Meow Wolf values investing in their creative team, giving back to their community, and doing their part to better the environment.

Through ticket, gift shop, food and beverage sales, and events, Meow Wolf is pulling in more than $1 million a month in revenues. George R. Martin, author of the novels adapted for HBO’s Game of Thrones series, is Meow Wolf’s landlord in Santa Fe. He’s also an investor and creative advisor to the firm.

This company, according to ImpactAlpha, emphasizes the potential of the creative economy. “This does not mean impact capital is not flowing to the creative economy—it is just not doing so on purpose,” Laura Callanan of Upstart CoLab told ImpactAlpha.

Meow Wolf firmly believes that accomplished artists must be compensated on an equal level with other skilled, in-demand professionals. Successful businesses must give back to — and participate energetically in — their communities.

Wolf provides financial assistance, expertise, and other forms of active support, and is excited to support innovative, community-focused art and social projects.

Meow Wolf’s path echoes what last year, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Callanan wrote: “When creative people pursue businesses that have a social purpose, they can have a catalytic impact on job creation, the economy, and social well-being.”

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Meow Wolf’s jaw-dropping 10 year journey of an anarchic art collective has grown into a multi-million dollar business. According to their web site, Wolf grew from having no access to blowing a new, profitable portal into the art world.

This tumultuous journey has yielded new ways of participating in culture and entertainment for not only these artists, but for the people from all walks of life who engage in and are inspired by their work. With a mission to provide access to and inspire creativity in everyone, Meow Wolf continues to experience growing pains, while continuing to reach for new impossibles.

Does Houston have anything like this? While Houston is considerably larger than Santa Fe, the expansive geography lends itself to challenges for cultivating a strong and viable creative economy. Sure there are the museums, NASA, Space Center Houston as well as several start-ups in and around the Texas Medical Center serving as a harbinger of creativity and innovation.

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But is that enough? One might argue that it is not.

Houston doesn’t seem to have a “meow wolf” instigator-like venue or organization to stimulate its own creative economy. Not that the city hasn’t tried. The Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, Only in Houston/OiH Creatives, American Advertising Federation Houston are but a few of select organizations who have tried, and are still doing so, to pull together what it takes to stimulate the region’s creative economy.

As Meow Wolf would tell anyone or any city, this takes continuous effort and a belief that what one is doing is worth it for everyone. That remains a challenge for Houston, and one it must overcome.