As a Photographer and Filmmaker, Ryan Gall got his start working with bands creating music videos and Rockumentaries. Realizing he could use his creative skills to help others, he collaborated with non-profits to create videos in support of their causes. During this time, he met a young woman, Andi Scull, whom he launched the HOPE campaign with. HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) creates campaigns to support education projects around the world, using artists and musicians to spread the word. It was through HOPE that Gall realized how much of an impact music could have when raising awareness for issues.

Right around the same time that Ryan was helping to launch HOPE Campaign, he attended Austin City Limits music festival and realized upon observation there that no one had done a concert weaving issues and causes in with music. He collaborated with his Conscious Commerce and Riot.House partner Barbara Burchfield to put together a pitch for what would later be the Global Citizen Festival.

They approached Hugh Evans in New York City at a press conference with their idea. Evans had prior experience running a large-scale music event in Australia with the Make Poverty History concert. It took two years to develop the details of hosting the concert in Central Park, having concert-goers earn their tickets to the festival, getting musicians on board and to gather funding. They’re first run of Global Citizen Festival was on September 29, 2012, with more than 60,000 people in attendance, all of whom earned their tickets by engaging in various causes.

Gall reinforces that the key to Global Citizen’s success is “power in numbers”. The overall goal of the festival is to end global extreme poverty by 2030, which you can imagine is not easily done. All of the “global citizens” go after an issue whether it is writing a petition, writing letters, anything to get attention of policy makers and world leaders. With approximately 8 million active subscribers to their newsletters and website, they have been able to pass a number of acts like the Global Food Security act and the Water for the World act. In 2015, Global Citizen set their followers to contact the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, to attend their festival and make a commitment on education funding to the Global Partnership for Education. Long story short, she showed up and made the commitment.

Ryan says, “When enough people are shouting about something, world leaders hear it… corporations hear it and they realize it’s something that they need to make a decision on.” His goal, and that of his partners at Global Citizen, has always been to create the largest social movement of our generation in order to gather the massive amount of people it would take to end global extreme poverty by 2030.

“When enough people are shouting about something,
world leaders hear it.”

This year, Global Citizen will be splitting it’s annual New York City based event into two parts. The first being “The World On Stage”, where they will be giving the “George Harrison Global Citizen Award” to an artist who has demonstrated charitable acts throughout their career, as well as honoring George Harrison himself. Paul Simon will be in attendance to present the award to its first recipient. On the day of the main festival, September 24, 2016, notable artists Rihanna, Major Lazer, Kendrick Lamar, Demi Lovato, Metallica, and their music curator Chris Martin of Coldplay will all be headlining with many others, including some surprise guests.

Ryan Gall’s venture into working on projects that connect music and awareness doesn’t stop at Global Citizen. Later this year, his company Riot.House will be heading El Salvador to partner with Glasswing and USAID on a David Guetta concert that will raise funds and awareness to keep El Salvador’s youth in school and out of gangs. Riot.House will be bringing their Virtual Reality film gear down there to get footage at the event and further spread awareness on the cause. Gall feels that closest thing to physically being in a situation, is watching virtual reality. He hopes to continue to work on films that incite action and raise awareness for global issues.

Log on to GlobalCitizen.org to join the Global Citizen community and make a commitment to help end global extreme poverty by 2030.