Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek talks about handling tough criticism and what it takes to create House of Eternal Return.
Vince Kadlubek will present a keynote at Remix Summit Sydney. Image supplied
CEO and founder of art collective Meow Wolf, Vince Kadlubek will present the keynote at REMIX Summit Sydney this April.
Known for bringing transformative arts experiences to global audiences, Kadlubek has been lauded and criticised for walking the very fine line between art and entertainment. He led Meow Wolf from art collective to an award-winning arts production company and created the business plan for the company’s most ambitious project, House of Eternal Return, an immersive storytelling experience filled with magical, interactive art.
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Here’s a taste of what Kadlubek will bring to REMIX Summit Sydney this April, and some insight into his experience developing House of Eternal Return.
Q: The House of Eternal Return was a huge gamble – and there was a time when you were overdrawn by US$75,000 and had almost 100 artists to pay. How do you get through challenges like that?
A: Breathe. Be logical. Stay hopeful. Work your ass off.
Q: The House of Eternal Return was criticised by high art critics as ‘a supreme act of late stage capitalism disguised through the collective’s mantra of the underdog as art savior.’ How do you handle this kind of criticism?
A: Breathe. Be logical. Stay hopeful. Work your ass off. No but really...you gotta stay connected to the real reasons for doing what you are doing, there is a kernel of passion at the root of all action, and you can’t lose focus of that.
I welcome the criticism, and I welcome a back and forth. I’ve been doing Meow Wolf for the last 12 years in order to instigate these criticisms and dialogues, so I’m not about to get soft about it now. This is the good stuff. I wish more corporations were willing to believe in something and engage in difficult, vulnerable, honest dialogue when those beliefs are challenged.
Q: How does a project of this scale pull together funding?
A: We raised the funding through a long process of pitching the project to every potential investor we could, looking for debt to build it.
Big projects come together by having a strong vision, knowing what resources you need, articulating your vision, and providing a clear sense of a return on investment. And then you make the thing.
House of Eternal Return Santa Fe.
Q: To create House of Eternal Return there were over 100 artists working across different media. What’s the secret to successful collaboration?
A: Communication, and not giving up when it gets hard. Everyone gives up when it gets hard. Keep going, get over your shit, keep working together, let go of your emotional responses.
Q: What’s the most exciting aspect of cultural entrepreneurship right now?
Woah big question...I mean, commercial America is actually quite boring. Places are predictable and boring, for the most part. So I’m excited to think that the textures and diversity of cultures that form our country’s melting pot might actually be reflected in the commercial landscape.
Q: What are you looking forward to at REMIX Sydney this year?
A: Oh man! I’m psyched to visit Australia. I’ve always dreamed of visiting. And at the conference, I’m looking forward to having challenging conversations with other leaders that may push our us towards a more socially responsible perspective on business.
To find out more about REMIX Sydney visit remixsummits.com/syd