Interview with Vince Kadlubek
Meow Wolf offshoot forms political action committee
Founded in 2008, the Meow Wolf arts collective has entertained, educated and sometimes challenged the Southwest with its seemingly endless creativity and unabashed approach to the arts, with projects ranging from the imposing inter-dimensional ship in The Due Return and the pointed consumerist storefront satire of OmegaMart. Now, members of the arts coalition are making their voices heard on a political front.
In November, Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek announced the formation of WolfPAC, a political action committee created to serve as a voice for the young adult community of Santa Fe. "Meow Wolf believes that Santa Fe is an incredibly progressive, creative, young and diverse city that deserves to have policy, representation, and public presentation that is in proper alignment with this," according to the group's mission statement.
Although it has broader plans for the future, the committee has announced three primary initiatives: the decriminalization of marijuana in Santa Fe, the appropriation of a dedicated music venue and the movement of Zozobra to Friday.
Upon learning of the formation of WolfPAC, I called up Kadlubek to learn more. Here is my SantaFe.com interview.
SantaFe.com: On Nov. 14, the Santa Fe City Council approved an underpass on St. Francis to connect the Santa Fe Railyard and Acequia Trail. I understand this was largely encouraged by Meow Wolf and its supporters. Were you inspired to create WolfPAC because of this recent success? What inspired you to create this formal vehicle?
Vince Kadlubek: That was definitely something that happened, but really, when we started Meow Wolf in 2008, we already had aspirations to bring change to local policy, but there was no viability...it wasn’t the right time. We've always dedicated ourselves to art and music, and we’re going to continue doing art and music, but our larger goal with Meow Wolf is to affect the cultural identity of Santa Fe. We've achieved this through art and performance, but now we want to get involved with local politics, as well.
SFDC: Why was there a need for a separate organization to champion these causes?
VK: We definitely needed a separate vehicle. Meow Wolf is a multi-headed group. We split off aspects of Meow Wolf to do different things so that they don’t cross over. Our educational outreach program, Chimera, for example, has evolved to be completely separate from Meow Wolf. But it was necessary to have a seperate group because it is not all of Meow Wolf -- WolfPAC is a separate root. Meow Wolf is too large to capture in a survey. WolfPAC, on the other hand, is a smaller group of people.
SFDC: What has the reaction been to the formation of WolfPAC?
VK: Local government is super psyched on it. We've been meeting with councilors and we've heard from the Mayor that everyone is really excited about getting young adults involved in local politics. It is a very difficult demographic to tap. We are entirely jaded and removed from politics in general. Our Meow Wolf fanbase or audience might be a little confused because they see us as art and music only. Others are excited to see us use our cultural capital in a fresh way.
SFDC: How will you measure the success of this movement? What are its goals?
VK: We want to actually accomplish things. One of these things is to get a city-supported music venue. Everything is gonna be policy-based. We don’t want cannabis-related offenses to be something the Santa Fe Police Department spends its funds on. We won’t feel that is a success until the city passes an ordinance to stop spending money to prosecute cannabis-related offenses. Keep in mind this is totally new to us. I don’t know the realm of politics but we are smart enough to know what we want change. We trust that the world of politics will help us find a way to make this happen.
SFDC: Why do you feel these are the most important issues? WolfPac lists nine issues on its site. What do these initiatives have in common?
VK: I think we’ll add to the issue list. But what the issues have in common is that these are young adult issues, we are trying to expand Santa Fe’s cultural identity to include the youth — y’know, turquoise and cowboy boots are the adult culture.
SFDC: Were you worried about possible negative associations around political action committees these days?
VK: That’s kind of humorous. Similar to Stephen Colbert, it is a little humorous to me, sort of a tongue-in-cheek thing. I mean we’re not going to raise millions of dollars to spend wildly on our local candidates. What we mean more is what the actual acronym means, "political action committee" — a committee of people mobilizing to create change within local politics.
SFDC: Your current website is missing the typical "Donate" button associated with many other PACs. Will this change?
VK: We’re looking at people as capital—we’re not looking for money right now. If anything, we may be looking for funds later down the road for something else, but for right now there’s no need for that.
SFDC: Is there anything you would like to add?
VK: I think it’s important to note that Meow Wolf is a very large group, and people have a variety of opinions in the group. We’ve really tried to avoid censoring our voices down to one single stance. We’re more into creating a system to give voice to the young adult demographic. WolfPAC is not a direct representation of all of Meow Wolf. It is a tough situation to understand when people are opening the paper it says "Meow Wolf supports this..." It’s simply not the case. WolfPAC supports these issues.