New Mex­ico art venue seeks out tiny in­vestors

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The startup com­pany be­hind a pop­u­lar im­mer­sive art ex­hi­bi­tion space in New Mex­ico sought out small-scale in­ter­net in­vestors as it lays the ground­work to take its themed en­ter­tain­ment to one or more ma­jor metropoli­tan mar­kets.

More than 500,000 vis­i­tors have flocked to Meow Wolf’s kalei­do­scopic walk- and crawl-through ex­hibit space since it opened in a con­verted Santa Fe bowl­ing al­ley in early 2016. The art in­stal­la­tion starts with a rid­dle on the doorsteps of a fan­ci­ful Vic­to­rian house and ex­tends through a maze of glow­ing pas­sage­ways and rooms with lasers, buttons and odd mu­si­cal in­stru­ments that re­spond to the touch. The pri­vately held com­pany be­hind the art com­plex which now en­com­passes a gift shop, non­profit ed­u­ca­tional stu­dio, live mu­sic venue, food truck, and a craft beer and wine area - hopes to raise roughly $1 mil­lion in in­cre­ments of as lit­tle as $1,000 through the crowd­fund­ing web­site WeFun­der.

The in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity comes with no guar­an­tee of a fi­nan­cial re­turn. Shares are not paired to a stock ex­change - and come with no guar­an­tee they can ever be sold - un­der eq­uity crowd­fund­ing reg­u­la­tions cre­ated just over a year ago by the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion.

“It’s a leap of faith,” Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kad­lubek said. “You’re buy­ing into a com­pany that you think has a good tra­jec­tory.”

The of­fer­ing ap­peals di­rectly to Meow Wolf ’s fan base to help out­fit a cre­ative stu­dio in Santa Fe with heavy man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment, while hir­ing a new cre­ative team. The goal is to add new art in­stal­la­tions in ma­jor cities - with Austin, Texas, Den­ver, Las Ve­gas and Hous­ton listed as top con­tenders.

“This is a foun­da­tional round (of fi­nanc­ing) that is meant to help us build the in­fra­struc­ture nec­es­sary to de­liver on fu­ture projects,” Kad­lubek said. Reg­is­tered as a pub­lic ben­e­fit cor­po­ra­tion that can set com­mu­nity pri­or­i­ties be­fore prof­its, Meow Wolf has re­ported $7 mil­lion in rev­enues dur­ing its first full op­er­at­ing year end­ing in March. About 85 per­cent of rev­enues came from ad­mis­sions, with full-price tick­ets go­ing for $20, or $14 for chil­dren.

The hit fam­ily des­ti­na­tion has been a bright spot on a slug­gish state econ­omy, while adding a dose of ven­ture cap­i­tal­ism to a Santa Fe arts scene that re­volves around pub­lic mu­se­ums, non­profit foun­da­tions and pri­vate gal­leries.

“We see our­selves as a com­pany of cre­atives,” Kad­lubek said. Cur­rent own­ers of the com­pany in­clude eight found­ing of­fi­cers and an ad­di­tional 48 pri­vate share­hold­ers - a num­ber likely to mul­ti­ply in com­ing days.

Game of Thrones au­thor George R R Martin, a Santa Fe res­i­dent, helped Meow Wolf get off the ground by pur­chas­ing its cur­rent lo­ca­tion and leas­ing the prop­erty at an ac­ces­si­ble rate. Fed­eral fil­ings show Meow Wolf’s direc­tors in­clude sea­soned San Fran­cisco ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Ste­wart Al­sop and Texas-based en­trepreneur Peter Zan­dan, a spe­cial­ist in global brand de­vel­op­ment.

Meow Wolf has been clos­ing in on fi­nal ap­provals for $1.1 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing from the City of Santa Fe and the New Mex­ico Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.