Our submission for the Shorty Impact Awards highlights Danny Wimmer Presents' strategic partnership with 1 Million Strong, a transformative initiative uniting the music industry, artists, and fans to create sober-inclusive spaces and offer support for those impacted by addiction. Danny Wimmer Presents is one of the largest independent producers of destination music festivals in America. Our objective was to join with 1 Million Strong as its first music festival partner (starting with the 2023 Bourbon & Beyond festival) in revolutionizing the festival experience by fostering an environment of inclusivity, wellness, and support.
Built around the shared goal of empowering people to show up as their best selves, 1 Million Strong is a partnership between The Phoenix, Stand Together Music, and Stand Together Foundation. 1 Million Strong demonstrates the power of all people to realize their full potential and the strength of communities coming together.
By 2025, the 1 Million Strong initiative aims to support 1 million people impacted by addiction through The Phoenix, a national sober active community that provides free and meaningful programming to anyone impacted by substance use, including those in recovery, anyone who chooses to live a sober lifestyle, and supporters of the movement.
At Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP), our ethos has always centered around delivering unparalleled entertainment experiences. At the same time, the company strives to make a positive impact in communities where we produce events. When we were introduced to 1 Million Strong, we immediately recognized the alignment of values and the potential for a powerful partnership.
Shared Vision: Our plan of action stemmed from the shared vision of effecting positive change — in this case, by transforming festivals into spaces of positive impact. The idea of promoting recovery, wellness, and community resonated deeply with us.
First-Mover Advantage: Being the first festival partner for 1 Million Strong (at the 2023 Bourbon & Beyond festival) allowed us to lead the industry forward in creating sober-inclusive festival spaces featuring tents with a VIP-like environment, elevated mocktails, and a supportive community. We saw this as an opportunity to set a precedent for music events, cater to diverse needs, and foster an environment that empowers everyone who walks through the gates of our festivals.
Authenticity Through Endorsement: Hosting 1 Million Strong at our festival was a strategic move to endorse the initiative's mission. The support of artists such as renowned musicians Robert Randolph lent authenticity and resonated with both attendees and media.
Elevating the Festival Experience: The 1 Million Strong retreat within our festival grounds provided a unique and meaningful space for festival-goers. It offered an alternative to ways addiction and sobriety support have traditionally been approached at festivals and added a layer of depth to our events.
Amplifying the Impact: By leveraging media outlets like the Louisville Courier Journal, LEO Weekly, Pollstar, and MXF Magazine, we amplified the message of 1 Million Strong. Digital content from the festival extended the reach of this impactful partnership.
In integrating the principles of 1 Million Strong into our festival atmosphere, we wanted to ensure the energetic and vibrant environment our attendees expect. We also expected to encounter questions about the need and/or desire for a sober-inclusive tent at Bourbon & Beyond — the world's largest bourbon and music festival.
The execution of the 1 Million Strong retreat showcased the seamless harmony between the festival spirit and the initiative's values, creating an environment that empowered everyone — including those who are sober and their allies — to show up and enjoy music, food, and phenomenal beverages.
Our collaboration with 1 Million Strong achieved remarkable outcomes. By becoming the first festival partner, we supported the initiative’s mission of shifting the conversation around wellness, recovery, and inclusivity in the industry. This partnership set a precedent for festivals to prioritize the holistic experience of all attendees.
The endorsement from musician Robert Randolph brought a new layer of authenticity to our commitment. Media outlets' coverage and online video content further amplified our impact, showcasing our dedication to creating meaningful festival experiences.
Moreover, this collaboration propelled 1 Million Strong's growth beyond our festivals. The initiative's subsequent partnerships with other festivals, artists, and industry leaders showcased the enduring ripple effect of our joint efforts. According to 1 Million Strong, nearly half of all visitors to their sober-supportive retreats at concerts and music festivals signed up to become further engaged to learn more about The Phoenix. In September 2023, the 1 Million Strong initiative will celebrate its first anniversary (and return to Bourbon & Beyond for the second year in a row).
In conclusion, our partnership with 1 Million Strong fulfilled our goal of delivering not just entertainment but a transformative and socially impactful experience to our attendees. It marked a pioneering step in reshaping the festival landscape to be more inclusive, supportive, and aligned with meaningful causes.