MTV acquires SnowGlobe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe
November 21, 2018
The annual SnowGlobe Music Festival — a perennial point of contention in South Lake Tahoe — has been acquired by MTV, the companies announced this week.
Details of the transaction were not disclosed. However, MTV said it plans to expand SnowGlobe's dates and locations worldwide. The company intends to do this by leveraging SnowGlobe's brand and international notoriety.
"In a festival space where many events have become indistinguishable, SnowGlobe stands out with a unique mix of music, sports, and art that makes it a favorite among artists and its growing audience," Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, said in a statement.
It's unclear if those expansion plans involve South Lake Tahoe, which has hosted the three-day music festival for the past seven years.
Originally pitched amid a devastating drought that added to the economic pain inflicted by the Great Recession, SnowGlobe has provided stability at a time of year that is becoming increasingly uncertain given the effects of climate change and the area's historical dependence on skiing and winter recreation, proponents argue.
A consultant hired by SnowGlobe in 2016 concluded that the festival provides a $14 million economic impact.
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However, some community members have vocally opposed the festival, citing negative impacts such as sound, trash and damage to the facilities that host the festival.
For the past several years, SnowGlobe founder Chad Donnelly has pushed to try and execute a 10-year agreement with the city of South Lake Tahoe for the event. A long-term agreement would give SnowGlobe the financial security to invest in more site-specific mitigation equipment, Donnelly has argued.
Previous South Lake Tahoe councils have balked at those long-term proposals, instead opting for shorter agreements.
This year is the last under terms agreed to in 2016, meaning SnowGlobe will have to negotiate a new agreement with the city, which is experiencing significant change in leadership.
A new city attorney recently came on board and a new city manager formally starts in December. Current election results have three new people joining the five-member City Council. All three would be first-time councilors.
At a forum prior to the election, the candidates poised to take the three seats on council agreed 2018 would be a "make or break year" for SnowGlobe, the Tribune previously reported.
Earlier this year Donnelly conceded the event does take a toll on the community. Organizers have worked to mitigate the impacts, including new sound-muffling measures to lessen the impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
"2018 will be a completely different sound set up," Donnelly told City Council in March. "This will be a major step up in peoples' experiences who live near the event."
Still, some of those nearby residents maintain it's time for SnowGlobe to go.
"We are in a war zone," South Lake Tahoe resident John Ebert said at the same March meeting. "When the first note of the sound check comes through the door, my dogs react like they are being beaten. We used to have our kids and their families come up here on New Year's. We can't do that anymore. They've been here seven years. There is no improvement. Absolutely none."
Although Donnelly has said he hopes to keep the event in Tahoe, other cities and towns have expressed interest in hosting SnowGlobe.
Monday's announcement made no mention of whether the festival still hopes to stay in Tahoe.
"With SnowGlobe, we've always endeavored to create an event experience that sets itself apart from the typical music festival model," Donnelly said in a statement. "We are incredibly excited to be joining the MTV family, whose legacy of developing boundary breaking programming and events perfectly aligns with our long-standing ambition of creative innovation."
This year's festival is Dec. 29-31. Visit http://www.snowglobemusicfestival.com for more information.
The story was originally published by the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe.
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