The last time Central Park’s Great Lawn hosted a Saturday night concert, the year was 1981, and the total raised was $100,000.
A recent Saturday marked the first show since, and the results were 60,000 souls watch a lineup including the Foo Fighters, Neil Young, The Black Keys, Band of Horses and K’naan–and became the largest syndicated charity concert in online and broadcast television history, generating over $500 million in pledges to combat poverty around the world.
In fairness to Simon and Garfunkel, the Global Festival’s pledge total relies on individual philanthropists, governments and NGOs to keep their word and contribute aid. But it’s a staggering sum nonetheless, one that’s nearly enough, says Evans, to eradicate polio once and for all (that would be music to the ears of Neil Young, who suffered from the disease as a child).
“It’s so close,” says Evans. “It literally could be the legacy of this generation to see that polio is wiped off the face of this planet, and that’s what we’re committed to.”
The Global Festival, deliberately scheduled to coincide with the United Nations’ General Assembly, should boost efforts that halved the global poverty rate from 1981-2005, from 52% to 25%–and give a jolt to the international body’s Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.