With the global addiction to screens, it was inevitable that the analogue world would eventually fight back. After all, we are social apes that want to physically get together and experience something meaningful that we hope will evolve our species (and have a fucking good time while we are doing it).
The call to arms came from a group of art punks who were sick and tired of art establishment, literally starving from the lack of work and empowered by a compulsion to drive culture to places we could never have dreamed of (unless we were taking acid and playing with Lego).
The year was 2016 in Sante Fe New Mexico, and this group of misfits, called Meow Wolf, opened their first major venue in an abandoned bowling alley. Made up of artists, film makers, writers and set builders, this collective created what some have described as a ‘Psychedelic Disneyland’; a world you can physically step into and engage with like a video game. They set out to give Santa Fe an alternative music and entertainment venue, but with the investment help of local resident and creator of Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin, they are proving that creativity and commerce can be best buddies.
Picture this….you arrive at the front door of a Victorian house where it quickly becomes clear that something has recently happened to the family that lived here. The kettle is still boiling on the stove but no-one in-sight. Then the fridge starts glowing and it teleports you into over 70 rooms of interactive sets taking you on a macrocosmic adventure of seemingly endless possibilities.
This is Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, which within two years, turned this group of out of work artists into the next big start-up. They sell 500,000 tickets annually in a town with 70,000 people and no airport and employ over 400 people. They are now looking to expand to new venues in Denver, Las Vegas, Pheonix and Washington DC.
So when we look at a place like Coffs Harbour that has 77,000 people, a great airport, in nature’s wonderland…can’t we strive for a bit more, especially in the creative industries? We just need a group of local art punks (Blacklight) to hook up with investors that are willing to take a chance (you?).
With their latest call for investment raising $158m, Forbes magazine has called Meow Wolf the next billion-dollar entertainment company. According to Eurometer, the Global Experience Economy is expected to be worth 8.2 trillion by 2023, driven largely by millennials, 77% of which say they will increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things (Eventbrite). Meow Wolf, and this new immersive entertainment industry is what you get when money gets together with imagination and that’s the shit we love at BlackLight!