Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf, the DIY collective turned arts-and-entertainment conglomerate that is building a massive outpost in Denver, just announced it would be eliminating more than half of its staff — 201 employees in total — and putting another 56 on furlough indefinitely.
Denver employees are among those being laid off, but the company declined to specify who would be losing their jobs.
"In just a few weeks, COVID-19 has radically changed the world in which we work and live," Meow Wolf announced in a statement about the cuts. "We regret to share that this crisis has affected Meow Wolf as a business in unimaginable ways, including the temporary closure of the House of Eternal Return and subsequent loss of all associated revenue. The changes implemented will affect all locations."
As for laid-off staff, Meow Wolf says it is offering "generous financial severance packages" to the workers. "In fact, over a six-month period, the severance support we are providing along with aid from the State of New Mexico and Federal government will add up to a significant contribution towards stabilizing these colleagues' income."
The notifications of termination were delivered gracefully, according to the statement: "It was important to the Co-CEOs, the Founders and our Board, to treat each individual with dignity and a recognition of their contribution with a severance package that was consistent with our ethos, supporting our artists in the best way that we can, delivered to each 'face to face' with the compassion and understanding necessary for them to know that we care and that we are here to help them through this transition."
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The news of the cuts comes in the wake of two lawsuits filed by Denver artists who claimed gender discrimination; those cases were settled quietly, without comment from the parties involved, before the coronavirus crisis hit.
To help weather the current situation, Meow Wolf's founders and co-CEOs have taken pay cuts to fund severance benefits, they say, and to aid the financial security of the organization moving forward.
That forward movement includes Meow Wolf Denver, now under construction at I-25 and Colfax Avenue, where the target opening date of 2021 is still on.
"The plans for opening exhibitions in Las Vegas and Denver are very much alive," Meow Wolf notes. "We believe in our remaining team and that they will not only carry us through this time, but will continue the tradition of mind-bending creativity with which Meow Wolf has become synonymous."