Santa Fe-based interactive art company Meow Wolf will lay off 201 of its employees and furlough an additional 56 in an effort to alleviate its “devastating” financial losses during the coronavirus shutdown, the company said Thursday.
The losses, which stem largely from the lack of visitors and revenue at its cash-cow exhibition in Santa Fe (The House of Eternal Return) were a necessary but painful move, officials said in a press statement provided to The Denver Post.
Employees received messages detailing the cuts five days ago, according to the Santa Fe Reporter, and some were contacted via the Zoom video-chat platform.
The House of Eternal Return closed to the public on March 13, the Reporter said, but the layoffs represent employees across all of Meow Wolf’s locations, including upcoming installations in Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
Plans to open a three-story, multimillion-dollar Denver location, currently under construction near Interstate-25 and East Colfax Avenue, are still on track for 2021. Meow Wolf would not specify how many Denver employees were laid off or furloughed.
“We have notified 201 employees that their positions were eliminated, and an additional 56 that they are on furlough until further notice,” Meow Wolf said. “However, we are maintaining nearly 200 positions to continue to move the company forward and share our art with the world through exciting and audacious exhibitions in the future.”
The company will offer severance packages and other support, officials said, including coordinating access to unemployment benefits with the state of New Mexico, where Meow Wolf and many of its employees are based.
“Over a six-month period, the severance support we are providing along with aid from the state of New Mexico and federal government will add up to a significant contribution toward stabilizing these colleagues’ income,” officials said.
Meow Wolf’s leaders (co-CEOs, as they call themselves) and founders have volunteered to take pay cuts to help fund a portion of the severance packages. Leaders are in talks about what the future of the formerly fast-growing company looks like.
“The plans for opening exhibitions in Las Vegas and Denver are very much alive,” the press statement added. “We believe in our remaining team and that they will not only carry us through this time, but (also) will continue the tradition of mind-bending creativity with which Meow Wolf has become synonymous.”
The financial decisions were made by co-CEOs Ali Rubinstein, Carl Christensen and Jim Ward, along with the founders of Meow Wolf and its board of directors, the company said.