EXCLUSIVE Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Kings of Leon and Elvis Costello are playing a free concert in Central Park this Saturday for an organization called Global Citizen. The concert is free, so going to hear these terrific artists is no skin off your nose. But knowing about Global Citizen is important. There are a lot of questions about them.
I first wrote about Global Citizen back in July. It’s part of something called the Global Poverty Project run by an Australian named Hugh Evans.
Global Citizen– as I wrote in July– is part of an Australian clothing company called Cotton One. (You can read about them here.) What’s the interest of Cotton One, which seems to be somewhere at the root of all this? Says Hugh Evans: “They have 153 stores in the US now, and they’re planning a thousand more in the next year.”
There’s a strange connection to Viacom chief Sumner Redstone. The Sumner Redstone Charitable Foundation is listed as a sponsor of the concert. But there’ s more: The sole donor to GPP is one Elizabeth Malia Andelin of Beverly Hills, a former flight attendant on Redstone’s private plane and a purported gal pal of the 90 year old mogul. According to federal tax returns, Andelin donated $1.5 million to GPP in 2010-11. Pictures of the couple are pretty much all over the internet, and they look about as couple-y as Redstone will allow given his checkered romantic history.
More importantly: the Form 990 for Global Poverty states that it made no– zero– donations to anyone in 2011. None. Zip. (Their 2012 form hasn’t been filed.) But of the $3 million they had on hand in 2011, more than half– $1.6 million–went to salaries, advertising, travel, and legal fees. They spent $899,000 on advertising.
Hugh Evans is the extremely well spoken founder of the group. I spoke to him this morning. He has the Australian gift of gab, which isn’t a bad thing when you’re raising lots of money and chatting up celebrities. Evans is passionate about ending global poverty. He insisted during our talk on a couple of things:
One– that Redstone and Andelin “are not a couple. She isn’t his girlfriend.”
Two– that all the money raised by Global Citizen goes to the cause of ending extreme poverty. He seemed unaware of the Form 990 expense listings. Evans was featured last year in the New York Times and he’s a celebrity in Australia. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/arts/music/hugh-evans-29-force-behind-global-festival-on-great-lawn.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Evans said Global Citizen doesn’t make charitable donations. “We’re an advocacy group. We got $1.3 billion last year in commitments from other groups and corporations,” he said. “You can see them on our website.”
Indeed, Global Citizen is very invested in ending polio around the world. Last year, according to the CDC, there were only 223 cases of polio on Earth. Most were in three countries– Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Dr. Jonas Salk invented the Polio vaccine in 1952. It has been available since 1955. Global Citizen doesn’t bring the vaccine to the countries where outbreaks are reported. It just tells them that it exists.
Evans also told me hat a committee of people in the music industry and with big agencies like CAA, WME, Live Nation and AEG Live met to organize the concert. He told me that all of the musicians in this year’s show are performing for free. At 30, he expressed shock that I had attended the famous concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park, back in 1981, with Simon & Garfunkel. “You don’t sound old,” he said. I assured him I had aged naturally.