Last year, Central Park’s Great Lawn played host to the first-ever Global Citizen Festival. Unlike attendees at most free concerts, the 60,000 who came had to do more than just show up to get in. Fans earned the chance to win tickets by taking actions aimed at ending extreme poverty, ranging from signing online petitions to emailing a senator or business leader.
The festival is returning for a second go-round this year, with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Kings of Leon and John Mayer on the bill.
amNewYork spoke with Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans.
How do you measure the success of an event like this? Our focus is ... on trying to influence the world leaders in town that week for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. We want them to focus on ending extreme poverty. Global poverty is not a single issue, but a through line for multiple issues: education, women’s equality, health and public-private partnerships.
Last year’s festival’s lineup focused on classic rock. This year, it’s pop and R&B. Was that intentional? It is.... The team came together and said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to have Stevie Wonder headline?” Incredibly, he said yes.... He’s so passionate about being a global citizen and ending extreme poverty. Then we built a lineup that complemented his leadership.
Will these concerts be annual events? That’s very much the direction we want to go. We believe it’s going to take a lot more than a rock concert to end extreme poverty. You need a 365-day movement, with the festival being an extreme moment when all the world leaders are in town.
Global Citizen Festival is Sept. 28 on Central Park’s Great Lawn. Next ticket drawing is Sept. 16. Visit globalcitizen.org to enter.