The last dozen years have been one wild ride for Meow Wolf, which started out in 2008 as a tiny collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico, then grew into the surprise hit of the international art world with the 2016 opening of The House of Eternal Return, an immersive art experience created in an old bowling alley with a major financial assist from Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin.
That Meow Wolf installation wasn't just a hit; it provided hope for a variety of creative efforts around the country, as developers decided they would get in on the arty party. In early 2018, Meow Wolf announced that it would open its second spot in Denver...and then it announced that it would actually open an offshoot in Las Vegas first. Soon after that came plans for an adjunct in Washington, D.C., then a massive project in Phoenix.
With all of these plans came growing pains, and some reorganization. A year ago this month, collective co-founder Vince Kadubek resigned as CEO of the organization. He was replaced by a new leadership team: Ali Rubinstein, Carl Christensen and Jim Ward, all relatively new additions to what had grown into an entertainment conglomerate.
And then came the pandemic, which shut down The House of Eternal Return. And while work continued on the other projects, as well as a retrofit of the Santa Fe flagship, a unionizing effort was also growing.
On October 19, the 130-worker-strong Meow Wolf Workers Collective, which does not include any of the Meow Wolf Denver employees, voted in favor of the union. In response, Meow Wolf released this statement:
Meow Wolf respects our employees’ right to organize. After a secret ballot election, the majority of the employees in the bargaining unit voted in favor of unionizing, and Meow Wolf voluntarily recognizes the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO to be the exclusive bargaining representative for the purposes of collective bargaining with Meow Wolf. This process has created valuable discussion within the company and Meow Wolf appreciates the varying points of view brought forward from the different perspectives within the bargaining unit and looks forward to working together with the CWA, AFL-CIO and Meow Wolf Workers Collective on policies and practices that will continue to ensure Meow Wolf is a great place to work.
The founders, management, and Co-CEOs of Meow Wolf, Ali Rubinstein, Carl Christensen, and Jim Ward, also understand the importance of the healing process after such a disruptive journey and look forward to working with the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO and Meow Wolf Workers Collective on ways that we can mend the delicate fabric of our Meow Wolf culture while encouraging practices that are supportive and nurturing to this culture in the future. They are also proud of the entire workforce and the way they have both spoken their truth and represented themselves during this process. This further reinforces the uniqueness of their employees and their confidence in the ability of Meow Wolf, as a social impact art project, to bend minds with future exhibitions opening next year.
And those exhibitions include Meow Wolf Denver, a 90,000-square-foot installation between the Colfax viaduct and the Auraria Parkway that's slated to open in late 2021.
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