Can a $50 Million Funhouse Save Denver's DIY Art Scene?
Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe
This article from Vice News discusses how the coming Meow Wolf could impact the Denver community, specifically the Sun Valley neighborhood and the DIY art scene in Denver. For me, it seems Sun Valley will feel the impact of this new attraction no matter what. However, the impact on the DIY scene seems a little more complicated; there will be positives and negatives.
Meow Wolf's new Denver Location
Meow Wolf is going to be a huge attraction that will bring plenty of new people to the Sun Valley neighborhood. This $50 million project will undoubtably help bring business to the area, but this could easily force the low-income residents out as rent and cost of living in the area increases. Meow Wolf is only a the beginning too, as the article mentions that $500 million worth of investments, 10 times more than Meow Wolf's, are coming in the next decade. Should Meow Wolf prove to be a successful attraction in Denver (which seems likely given the success of the Santa Fe location) this number will only grow. Hopefully Meow Wolf community outreach team will have a good plan, but it seems gentrification is unavoidable. Meow Wolf can only hope to mitigate its own effects.
Rhinoceropolis is one of the DIY venues that has benefitted from Meow Wolf's help
I have mixed opinions on how Meow Wolf is handling the established DIY art community. I think it is good that they are trying to create a dialogue between the city and the existing art scenes. Meow Wolf's size makes it uniquely qualified to mediate between the two. Meow Wolf is big enough to get the city's attention, so they will listen. However, that size will also could be a problem for the other DIY venues. These places are just getting by with Meow Wolf's help. I worry that such a popular and anticipated project could out-compete the small DIY artists. Remember that Meow wolf is a multimillion dollar business; this seems to me to be a lot like when a Walmart moves into town and out-competes the small mom n' pop shops in town. For that reason, it seems a little bit patronizing for Meow Wolf to propping up the small artists who compete with them for business. Meow Wolf's popular appeal will probably generate more interest in the DIY art scene as a whole, but this creates a system where Meow Wolf will completely dominate the scene. I think the role of " behind-the-scenes patrons" could give Meow Wolf too much influence in the scene and hinder artistic diversity.
Vince Kadlubek, CEO of Meow Wolf, at the new location in Denver