Meow Wolf’s biggest attraction yet has finally come to Denver. But that’s by no means the whole story. For years, Denver has been preparing for Meow Wolf’s arrival in ways that are impacting not just the city but the entire region – and very likely beyond.
Millennials across the globe increasingly value experiences over material possessions.
For a while now, Denver has been the number one choice of those among them wanting to move to a new city in the US, and a third of Denver residents are now millennials (CNBC). City government took notice, and laid plans to stay ahead of the curve with a multi-year community-generated cultural plan designed to fully integrate arts, culture and creativity into daily life, work and play. These ingredients of Denver’s special sauce are part planned, part serendipitous – and that recipe is the reason Meow Wolf and Alt Ethos CEO and Founder Ethan Bach (who had worked together in Santa Fe on helping to elect a new mayor and in Denver for the Meow Wolf announcement party) recognized the potential and established their primary operations in Denver.
Years in the making, the Meow Wolf Effect is still unfolding.
Early predictions were for 1.5M visitors per annum, but the surge of advance ticket sales suggests there may well be a lot more. Whatever the number, this massive new influx of visitors will have major implications for the creative economy (“Is Meow Wolf good for artists? Overall, yes” – Denver Post), the tourist industry, and the culture at large. It will transform opportunities for growth in entertainment offerings, art sales, retail, and dining, which will have a ripple effect across the region. It’s never been just about the Meow Wolf site itself.
As Ethan says: “The Meow Wolf Effect is an intimate and intentional look into a cultural phenomenon sparking the creative economy in a way that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.
This is our moment of opportunity. If we keep harnessing our collective energy with strategic planning in order to make the best possible outcome, we can make a huge shift in the new economy.”
eFlow is a fun and creative way for people to engage and connect while physically distancing. Whether at a drive-in event or virtual event this collaboratively creative platform can be easily branded or themed.
eFlow‘s platform is fully customizable – custom stamps, brushes, and backgrounds are all possible to create branded experiences for your event. The ongoing live collaboration can be displayed publicly by projecting the canvas large-scale at your physical event as well – creating a hybrid experience for both onsite and virtual attendees.
eFlow is an artistic collaborative WebGL fluid simulation that works in your browser. You and other online participants can collaborate with colors and shapes on an ever-changing canvas. See the networked artwork shift and grow in real time as others join in on the fun.
Outdoor Immersive Storytime
At the Anythink Brighton Drive-In Storytime event, as attendees got settled into their parking spots, they were able to play with eFlow on the screens across their personal devices and see their the projection screens in the lot.
Virtual Dia De Los Muertos Experience
Alt Ethos created a custom Dia De Los Muertos interactive experience for Thornton, Colorado’s 5th year of its annual celebration. While October 2020 restrictions transformed this hybrid event into online-only, visitors were able to connect and share the community memorial video online and play with others decorating the sugar skull on eFlow.
Let’s talk about ways that Flow can bring magic and play into your event! Interactive and immersive exhibits take your event to the next level.
“I don’t know about you, but I have caught the travel bug. COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health it seems, and more often I find myself longing to get away. The urge to travel is partially a longing to connect, not just with other people but with the natural world.”–anonymous
COVID-19 has affected the lives of every American in ways we are still grasping to understand. From financial stress to unprecedented changes in school and business, there is nothing our nation has faced quite like this. Now more than ever, people are longing for something to pull them out of the chaos. And now more than ever we need to make wise choices in how we travel. We are longing for opportunities to experience the beauty and to connect with what’s around us.
One of the ways people in the Northwest have increasingly chosen to connect during COVID-19 is through the National Park system. Wyoming, for example, has had some of the lowest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the nation. Their national parks, including Grand Teton and Yellowstone, were able to remain open for the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic with very little outbreaks. Enjoying the great outdoors has become one of the easiest and healthiest ways to be physically distant and remain in-tune with the outside world. The outdoors will remain throughout the winter months.
However, experiences in the outside world don’t have to be limited to the national parks. In a world with an ever-increasing demand for individual, and oftentimes virtual experiences, digital designs are playing a vital role in a physically distanced pandemic America.
Digital designs are one of the most affordable and diverse ways to transform public spaces in ways that would be too cost-prohibitive for traditional capital improvements to take place. For example, holiday tree lightings, modern drive-in theatres, and socially-distanced architectural projection mapping offer the opportunity to set up live experiences with minimal changes to the structural environment. Drive-thru and drive-in live experiences offer the chance to mimic the traditional performance environment without costly overhead or unsafe practices during COVID-19 shutdowns.
Experiential design has been at the forefront of our culture preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer the benefits of a communal social function while allowing individuals to participate from the safety and comfort of their cars, outdoors, or from the comfort of your home. These options offer the blend of privacy and community that many are craving right now. And, there are many other options for virtual live experiences that are just scratching the surface of what we’re able to accomplish within the digital pace.
Join us this holiday season in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Where Cheyenne is bringing the lights to the holidays this year. Alt Ethos will feature two light experiences in Cheyenne this holiday season. On Saturday, November 21st, and Friday, November 27th we light up the Downtown Lighting Celebration through architectural mapping of the train depot located at 121 W 15th Street. That’s not all! From November 21 through January 1st, 2021, come by the Prime Time Holiday Drive-Thru at Blue FCU located at 2401 E. Pershing Blvd, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001.
The post-pandemic world is undetermined. What do we want to use to shape it, and how will we as individuals and communities contribute? That is the question that digital art and technology can provide if we are confident enough to venture out.
Note: Always follow the recent guidelines from local health and state agencies as well as the recommendations of the CDC to stay safe. If you or someone you spend time with have compromising health concerns, please avoid crowds.
On Tuesday, September 1, from 9pm-midnight, theaters and event venues across North America will be asked to light ghost lights on their stages, light their buildings in red, and use hashtag #WeMakeEvents to symbolize the struggle of the industry, which has been shuttered since March 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Alt Ethos is supporting our colleagues, clients, and friends in the event industry by lighting up the mansion at 2345 7th St, Denver. Thanks to Reactiv.io for collaborating on this lighting installation one of their many event rental spaces. Check out the mansion as you drive down I-25 near the Denver Aquarium, or stop by to snap some photos – and tag #WeMakeEvents to raise awareness.
By the Numbers
The live entertainment industry is a cornerstone of the U.S. economy. It employs over 12 million people and provides upwards of $1 trillion in economic impact – more than the transportation, agriculture, and tourism industries. However, due to the global pandemic, the live events industry is in grave danger. A devastating number of arts professionals are currently out of work and will be for some time, with the pandemic having shut down nearly all entertainment functions in all sectors.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has been completely shattered reporting that:
• 95% of entertainment events have been canceled.
• 62% of entertainment workers are fully unemployed.
• 94% of entertainment workers have lost income.
• The average arts worker reports $23,500 in losses thus far.
• 66% of entertainment workers are unable to access spaces, staff, resources, or supplies needed to do their jobs.
To all of you, we at Alt Ethos have been working hard to innovate solutions for this changing time. Communities and organizations around the world are at a high level of confusion, overwhelm, and disconnection. Like you, we had our times of frustration as we navigated the rough waters of the unknown. We also saw it as an opportunity.
Our communities are starting to come out of stay at home orders around the globe. How shall we experience community spaces and not end up on national news like the Memorial Day waterpark parties? Watching these gatherings can make you feel unhinged and afraid to engage. In this desire to re-open and reconnect with our constituents, we intend on providing flexible solutions that retain ROI if and when another wave of shutdown orders occurs.
That is why Alt Ethos has been doing research and design since the closing of the first major international event in the United States, SXSW.
During this crisis, that feeling of isolation can make everyone feel disconnected. If municipalities and corporations can’t find a way to safely connect with their constituents, they miss the chance to provide support and a sense of well-being.
Now is the time to step up and activate your communities and create the future of placemaking, entertainment, and advertising. A culture that is resilient, fun, and provides an opportunity for connection. It is our destiny as humans to create new solutions, visions, and activations to reinvigorate the next steps in social healing. It is the responsibility of our cities, our libraries, our public art, and our local businesses to reconnect with our communities.
Your contribution to the recovery of this crisis is going to be massive. You are creating the future of community building and entertainment. We know we are a small percentage of the population that imagines the future even in the time of a world crisis. We are looking for you to create, to connect, and to activate new solutions.
Get started by downloading our new Experiential Design Playbook. First, to get an idea of what is possible and mutable in uncertain times. Second, to increase the support your constituents feel connecting a greater bond to your city or your brand. Create activations that make your message easier to hear, simultaneously inspiring engagement and making a contribution to your community.
Learn all about our COVID re-entry experiential design solutions:
Traditional exhibits are losing their luster for modern audiences. In a digital age where everything from your phone to your TV experience is interactive, there is little room for static learning and entertainment. Museums that do not make the paradigm shift into the digital age will fade into the background with the next generation if they haven’t already.
Museums that thrive in today’s educational sectors are proactively changing the way they execute new experiential exhibits. Interactive exhibits are the new forefront in museum expansion, as they encourage exploratory learning in ways that traditional exhibits simply do not.
Shifting your own paradigm is essential to ensure your museum is relevant to younger audiences and local institutions. The “show and tell” structure of most museums is outdated and will be replaced by interactive learning experiences that allow guests to immerse themselves in a new world.
Why Museums Need Interactive Exhibits
Experiential design has opened the doors for museums and historical sites to make deeper connections to patrons and the community at large. An experience that a visitor can remember and connect with on an emotional level is much more powerful than a quote or an image they observe hanging on a wall. As technology expands in the museum and art space, there are more possibilities for education to flourish within the community.
Your museum is competing with many other forms of entertainment, from concerts to festivals, art shows, and more. In order to draw attention outside the realm of school districts, you will need to offer interactive elements that draw in crowds. Whether your experiential design includes art modalities, technology, or unique physical environments, it must offer the same emotional connection that other mediums of digital art provide.
The intertwining of technology with physical environments will make your museum relevant even amidst the ever-growing world of digital entertainment. People want to learn; however, you must engage them in a way that doesn’t produce stagnation.
Tips for Success:
Choosing relevant content. The most crucial element to any experiential design is the subject matter. Even the best design can’t engage an audience if the content itself is not relevant or important to the user. Choosing content that is modern, unique, and relevant to your community is the only way to ensure your experiential designs make an impact.
Releasing control is a good thing. For a long time, the museum model was stagnant, giving all control to the curators and none to the visitors. However, experiential design invites the visitor into a realm in which they can make their own choices, and experience the exhibit or infrastructure in the way that they want. Museums may find it intimidating to allow users to create their own experiences, but the possibilities are limitless when you put education in the hands of those who crave it.
Involve physical activity and social interaction. Physical and social activity help to immerse your visitors into the world that you’ve created for them. Social interaction creates positive feelings and memories associated with your exhibit, which will encourage visitors to plan future visits with friends. Physical activity immerses the user into the exhibit, rather than having them observe and learn, and also instills the memory deeply in the mind. Both of these elements will set your exhibit apart.
At AltEthos, we help museum curators design and develop experiential exhibits that make the museum experience not only relevant, but modern and unique. Our innovative models and forward-thinking mindset help us to create experiential designs that are both educational and immersive. When planning your next exhibit, see what AltEthos can help you achieve.