Could that success be replicated elsewhere? King acknowledges that the collective could have started up anywhere, but credits Santa Fe for the growth they were able to achieve. The city bears a strong artistic identity, but it’s art scene is less competitive and cutthroat than that of major U.S. art hubs like New York and Los Angeles. Meow Wolf found support in the Santa Fe art community, press, and residents—not to mention its first major investor, local literary legend George R. R. Martin, who put up the initial investment, to the tune of $3.5 million, to buy the old bowling alley that now houses the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Martin remains active in the company as landlord, investor, and an owner.
Like any start-up enterprise, Meow Wolf’s artist-collective-turned-corporate-entity is still in its early stages. As King suggests, they’re acquiring their business acumen “on the fly.” Whether they can sustain growth and profitability in the long term remains to be seen, but these initial successes certainly give cause to sit up and take notice.
Meow Wolf is now actively pursuing plans to expand beyond Santa Fe and into different markets. A new, even larger Meow Wolf permanent installation in the city of Denver is on the horizon, and they are also considering setting up shows in other cities in the future.
Beyond their own expansion plans, Meow Wolf is committed to passing on support to other DIY creative communities. In the wake of the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland, Meow Wolf established a $100,000 annual fund to provide grants and free consultations to DIY art spaces around the country. In the future, one might imagine, these efforts could lead to a renaissance of artist collectives—up-to-code, thriving artist communities that are maybe even profitable.