ARTnews Parent Invests in South by Southwest Festival

The Editors of ARTnews


April 19, 2021 7:16am

Keith Urban talks during the "Creation
Keith Urban speaks during the 2018 SXSW Conference.PHOTO JACK PLUNKETT/INVISION/AP

South by Southwest, the massive two-week festival of music, movies and technology held every March in Austin, Texas, announced that it had sold a 50% stake in SXSW, LLC to a division of Penske Media Corporation, P-MRC Holdings, LLC. Beset by the financial strain of this year’s cancellation of the in-person portion of the festival, the deal allows South by Southwest to maintain its current leadership team. The core business of the festival will remain unchanged.

“It has been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” said CEO and Co-Founder Roland Swenson. “When Jay Penske approached us with an interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us. Both of our companies share a passion for producing high quality content that helps shape modern culture, so this feels like a natural alliance.”

Swenson’s team will continue to focus on planning the event in Austin which will take place March 11 – 20, 2022. The partnership will allow South by Southwest to pursue new capabilities and provide quality programming to Penske Media’s diverse community of highly engaged creative professionals. Penske is home to some of the most influential brands in entertainment and music, including ARTnews, Art in America, Robb Report, Rolling Stone, Women’s Wear Daily, Variety, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Vibe.

The deal will also expand SXSW’s potential for new events and business models—and bring media expertise that will allow for new avenues for discovery to SXSW’s iconic event.

Jay Penske, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Penske Media, said, “We are grateful and proud to become enduring partners with SXSW, and collaborate with its exceptional team. Since 1987, SXSW has been the world’s premier festival centered at the convergence of tech, media, film, and music. Today SXSW continues to be one of the most recognized brands for empowering creative talent and bringing together the brightest creators of our time. As part of this significant investment, we plan to build upon SXSW’s incredible foundation while extending the platform further digitally and assisting Roland and his incredible team to bring their vision to even greater heights.”


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