Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Global Citizen Festival

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Playing for a cause: Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys performs at the 2012 Global Citizen Festival. Photo courtesy of Theo Wargo/Getty.

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On September 27, thousands of citizens, celebrities, musicians, and humanitarians will converge in New York City’s Central Park for a music festival driven by a shared purpose: ending global poverty. Now in its third year, the annual Global Citizen Festival is an all-day concert series organized by the Global Poverty Project, a humanitarian organization dedicated to ending global poverty by 2030 through citizen advocacy.

The festival, launched in 2012 under the direction of Australian humanitarian Hugh Evans and with funding from corporate partners such as HP, FedEx, Coca-Cola, and Forbes, raised $1.3 billion in its first year with performances by musical powerhouses such as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, and Elvis Costello. The 60,000 concertgoers and 20 million online viewers were also treated to appearances by Bono, Olivia Wilde and Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.

Rather than pay for a ticket, 90 percent of attendees earn their spot by completing tasks to increase awareness of the annual policy themes through the Global Citizen Festival website, such as sharing videos or articles through social media, taking online quizzes, signing petitions, and e-mailing or calling their elected government officials and asking them to support legislation related to the year’s stated goals. Each of the more than 100 activities are weighted from one to eight points based on their estimated impact, and concertgoers must accumulate a minimum of eight points to win a ticket.

This year’s festival policy goals are universal education, sanitation and vaccines, and reversing gender inequality. To guarantee their spot at the festival this September, attendees are taking to the web to raise awareness about the need to broaden access to education for 57 million children worldwide and guarantee universal immunization, among other themes. And with a star-studded lineup of special guests and performers, advocacy never sounded so fun.

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