While immersive exhibition experiences and interactive storytelling remain the flagship of Meow Wolf’s collective goals, you can also count community engagement, ethical philanthropy, environmental stewardship and strengthening the local economy as key and sustained efforts in engaging a wider circle of talented people and organizations.
We believe that community engagement is about showing up, again and again, to build trust and relationships that last. As Meow Wolf grows into new markets, we want to acknowledge that each community is unique and we will be spending the majority of our energy focused on listening to the needs of the local creative community before we engage in a significant way. Structural and systemic change takes time. We want to build the right partnerships, and in doing so, we welcome the discourse and questions that come along with the responsibilities of growth.
Meow Wolf will prioritize supporting the efforts of organizations and non-profits in the local communities we serve – Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver, Washington DC, and Phoenix – that provide creative and inclusive opportunities for all.
Meow Wolf is committed to our DIY roots and grassroots community support principles. To document that commitment, we converted our legal designation into a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation and have certified as a B Corporation. As a B Corp, we have a triple bottom line of supporting financial, social and environmental wellbeing in our community.
These principles guided the creation of Meow Wolf’s first Corporate Social Responsibility plan for our Denver project. The creation of our CSR took nearly two years of listening to the unique needs of the community and assessing how we could provide targeted support. We recognize that we cannot fulfill every request and we cannot support every non-profit organization, so our CSR focuses on supporting long term change. For us, this means a commitment to respect for existing communities, respect for artists, respect for the environment, and respect for an inclusive economy. Our goal in 2019 is to produce a company-wide CSR and incorporate community commitments for each of our locations.
As a growing art collective, supporting local artists and the arts community remain a strong pillar of our engagement. Our emphasis for new projects centers on engaging and working with artists in the local community. We want to bolster artists who have deep histories, stories and contexts in their city – it not only makes our narratives and exhibitions stronger to retain a diverse cohort of collaborators, it’s one of the main reasons why we are expanding our company.
We’re not just commissioning artist murals in these new markets, we’re endeavoring to create a community of artists that will work with Meow Wolf for years to come on public art and professional projects. Collaboration with artists makes us stronger, it pushes the aesthetic quality of our brand and it unleashes our deepest power to produce truly mind-bending experiences! Visit our Artist Engagement page to submit your work and learn more.
Meow Wolf has also established a philanthropy program that performs responsive grantmaking to adjust to the unique needs of each creative community we serve. In 2019, we released our Philanthropy Priorities and philanthropy mission to focus our resources on artists and providing creative opportunities for all. While the mission of Meow Wolf’s philanthropy is broad, we have adopted several Community Priorities Areas, informed by ongoing community conversations, to focus our resources on areas where we can make positive change in the near future, and support broader systemic change in the larger term. Our current priority areas include; art access, art/STEAM education, art and our environment, and inclusive opportunities for artists.
Priority will be given to requests from local, community-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, or organizations that have a fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status, public schools or municipalities located in one of the cities we serve — Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver, Washington D.C. or Phoenix. These priorities will guide decisions in funding, passes donations, in-kind support and other programmatic activities. To read more about our priority areas or request support from Meow Wolf please visit our Philanthropy page.
Another stong component of our philanthropy is our annual Meow Wolf DIY Fund. Established in 2016 in the wake of a tragic fire at Oakland’s DIY arts and music space, Ghost Ship, Meow Wolf established an annual DIY Fund to assist and help ensure the safety and sustainability of similar venues around the world. This cause is near and dear to our hearts as Meow Wolf has been a DIY arts and music community since 2008. We know how difficult it is to operate an alternative venue that builds and cultivates authentic creative community, and we value the work these spaces do around the country.
Through the DIY Fund, small community art spaces receive grant money to pay for everything from infrastructure improvements to rent. To date, we have awarded more than $375,000 in funding to support more than 250 DIY spaces across the country. We stand in solidarity with DIY communities and our DIY Fund will continue to support art collectives for years to come. Learn more about the DIY Fund and its application process on our DIY Fund webpage.
At Meow Wolf, we want to use our talents for good. One such example in using our talented storytelling team to elevate important issues and organizations is our Community Voices documentary series. Not only has this series spread awareness of non-profit organizations like Moving Arts Española, Girls Inc. and Reading Quest, but it will continue to do so with an eye on hiring more local photographers and videographers who will work with Meow Wolf to produce this content across our locations.
We have also expanded Community Voices to be part of our fun and engaging Meow Wolf Live series. Once a month, we will use this platform to engage the community in relevant topics and interview deserving non-profit organizations. We anticipate growing this series in years to come to highlight non-profit organizations in all of our communities.
On a daily basis, Meow Wolf provides life changing experiences through maximalism artwork to hundreds of visitors. We’ve seen firsthand the impact that access to the arts has on our ability to grow, learn and express ourselves. To that end, we are proud to have established the David Loughridge Learning Center in our flagship Santa Fe location that focuses on art education, art therapy, choice-based art teaching and recycled materials art making. Current regular programming includes free Open Studio hours, various workshops, Queer Space Art Therapy, Toddler Tales reading program, and PWD Open Studio hours with art activities for people with developmental disabilities.
The educational and art therapy information gathered through our Learning Center in Santa Fe is being carried into the development of future Meow Wolf locations as we look to support programs and workshops in other communities. In doing so, Meow Wolf hopes to partner with institutions and organizations to increase access to free community programming while supporting free and reduced admissions to our exhibitions. We look forward to learning more and expanding our work to support STEAM learning in public education across all of our locations.
As new locations are being announced and our community grows, Meow Wolf is just beginning to have these conversations with the cities and communities involved. We welcome input and ideas for expanding our footprint and work, and are dedicated to increasing transparency as we evolve. Our ultimate goal is to support systemic change in the arts by reaching out to communities that are underserved and underrepresented, and building strong partnerships with those most affected.
The original mission of Meow Wolf was to foster community and support emerging artists.
With the success of House of Eternal Return, the dream has expanded to new communities and new artists. The business plan is to continue to “do well by doing good.” This good work takes time, but we believe that intentional relationship building cultivates lasting change. The reality is that systemic change takes time. It is not simple, it does not happen overnight, and it often takes years to move the needle on the most important issues. Meow Wolf is constantly learning and adapting to the needs of the communities we serve. We welcome feedback and healthy dialogue as we hone our process.