Even though Meow Wolf’s popularity skyrocketed in the last two years, leading to millions of visitors at their permanent exhibition in Santa Fe, the artist collective knows what it’s like to survive as thrifty creatives on a budget. For over a decade, the group existed on “dumpster diving for supplies, unsafe facilities at rock bottom prices, and long hours at low-pay jobs in between the precious midnight hours available to create community,” according to an official statement. It is with this understanding of the struggles in taking the artistic path in life that Meow Wolf believes in donating money to small DIY art spaces around the country.
Last year, the Meow Wolf DIY Fund was set up in response to the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, when the national creative community needed support and encouragement most. With the help of donors, Meow Wolf was able to donate $215,000 to art organizations, with $54,000 of that funneling into Denver’s community. With the donation, 19 organizations in Denver were offered the chance to improve infrastructure, pay rent, increase safety and buy materials and equipment.
That wasn’t the first time Meow Wolf donated money to the Denver scene, either. After the popular DIY venue Rhinoceropolis was shut down by the city in late 2016, Meow Wolf donated $20,000 to help them and Glob — another DIY space. Although Rhinoceropolis is still closed, the siphoning of funds toward other DIY spaces may prevent future instances from replicating Rhinoceropolis — namely, artist displacement or eviction.
This year, the Meow Wolf DIY Fund has increased to $250,000 and small community spaces can apply for funding through their website until September 30, 2018. They also offer a chance for supporters and advocates of the arts — and people who have some money to spare — to donate to the fund on an Indiegogo website.
“Meow Wolf knows the school of hard knocks and the tortuous path that artists face operating an alternative venue to build authentic community,” said CEO Vince Kadlubek in a press release. “We know the evils of gentrification, the lack of affordable housing, and the absence of any jobs let alone fulfilling and well-paying ones. We also know the intense pressures to homogenize and be absorbed into conformist ways of living and working that don’t do anybody—artist, patron or community—any good. We stand in solidarity with creative groups around the world and honor them as highly essential agents for a healthy and thriving society. The only way we can have non-conformed and interesting culture is if we have non-conformed and interesting space.”