On September 26, 2015, Global Citizen had its fourth annual festival in the Great Lawn in Central Park with an astonishing crowd of 60,000 fans. This festival is not just about seeing your favorite artists, but more about bringing people together and uniting for a cause. Global Citizen is an organization, partnered with the UN, with a very specific mission statement: to end extreme global poverty by 2030. Every year the organization receives more exposure and 2015 saw its biggest event yet. Music artists, celebrities, actors, and world leaders take the stage to thank and encourage the audience to continue the fight.
Last year’s event featured performances by Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Pearl Jam, and Beyoncé, as their main headliners. Other music artists who also took the stage included Sting, Common, Ariana Grande, Tori Kelly, just to name a few. In between their sets world leaders and celebrities raised awareness on different issues facing the world. Leonardo Dicaprio stunned the audience when he came out to speak about climate change, an issue that he has continued to promote in his Oscar-winning speech.
One would think that such a star-studded event must be exclusive and expensive to attend? Completely the opposite, tickets are free! Or, rather fans can enter a lottery on the organization’s website by taking action and contributing to their causes. Fans complete an action journey – 8 actions of their choosing – to enter the draw. Actions range from signing a petition, to sharing articles, to calling world leaders. That September day Central Park saw over 60,000 fans all there with a simple mission in mind: becoming a global citizen and taking part in creating a better world.
The biggest shocker of the night was Beyoncé introducing First Lady Michelle Obama to the stage. In previous years, she had sent in a video to show her support for the festival but to everyone’s surprise she made a special appearance. In her speech, the First Lady discussed the 62 Million Girls campaign. This campaign aims to help and educate the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school. US Vice President Joe Biden joined the stage with his wife Jill to address the need for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect. President Barack Obama sent a video message from the White House calling for more action to help end extreme poverty. Pakistani activist Malala Yousafazai took the stage to speak on the rights of young girls to have an education. She asserted that there is no equality without education.
The work that is done at the festival does not stop there. It is an ongoing process to reach the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. The lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin kicked off his 15-year gig as curator of the Global Citizen festival last September. Martin is passionate about this project and how simple it can be to make a difference. He told Billboard that by making this festival glamorous with important people such as Beyoncé or the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan it can go a long way. Beyoncé and Coldplay reunited again by performing at the SuperBowl halftime 2016 show. Martin sported a Global Citizen shirt, once again putting this project in the limelight in front of all the thousands of people who watch the sporting event. In similar fashion, Beyoncé performed her brand new song “Formation,” in which she celebrates her black culture and calls for equality.
Global Citizen is bringing to light many of the world’s issues in an innovative way. It has mixed pop culture, concerts, and political issues in one huge project to create change. Music has helped shaped politics in an effort to facilitate the conversation.