Music for social good

    Attendees discuss solutions to various sanitation issues during the breakout sessions at the Global Citizen Festival – The Action Summit. Photo by: Andrew Nelson

    Just a month after the last The Action Summit took place in New York, Nikki Mirasola is already looking forward to the next one.

    Mirasola coordinates events for the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, which co-hosted the summit with Global Citizen, an initiative launched by the Global Poverty Project. The event featured discussions by global development thought leaders, including Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar, on how to address challenges to ending extreme poverty by 2030. It preceded a music festival headlined by rapper and music mogul Jay-Z, whose pop superstar wife Beyoncé made a surprise appearance.

    “A lot of the issues that are discussed at the Global Citizen Festival — The Action Summit, about open defecation and sanitation, it's not something that a normal, average everyday person might know about or even be open to discussing,” Mirasola told Devex. “But I think when you use these musicians and artists to help with that message, you are able to get a lot more people engaged and paying more attention.”

    According to Mirasola, the institute, which over the past year has focused heavily on developing and refining the social entrepreneurship component of its curriculum, is interested in collaborating with the Global Poverty Project again, including on another action summit in 2015.

    In her conversation with Devex, Mirasola discussed how aid organizations can partner with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, which is part of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Here are some excerpts.

    What are the biggest takeaways from the Global Citizen Festival and Action Summit?

    We had our students volunteering to get prepared for the summit and working at the festival, so it provided all these amazing experiences to learn about live production.These are issues that our students didn't necessarily know about, but they now have a broader understanding and awareness of that and can talk about in an intelligent way.

    It’s a reminder, too, for us of how important social entrepreneurship is and how critical it is to teach this to our students so they're being mindful of this on a daily basis. No matter where they are in the process of their education or their career, they can have this mindset and utilize those skills to not only do what they want but also help others along the way.

    What is the relationship between music and extreme global poverty?

    As cliché as it sounds, music is a universal language and when used correctly, it can be very effective at spreading messages and bringing about change. The music industry has always been ardent about giving back to social causes, and some of the industry’s most prominent figures — musicians, executives and organizations — are spearheading solutions to society’s most intractable problems. If music can help affect the necessary change and end poverty, why not use it?

    How can aid organizations approach the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music for partnership?

    All they have to do is email me. We're a very small program. If there are organizations that are interested in getting involved, I'm happy to sit down and have a conversation. The good thing about being so small is we're very versatile and we can really have this type of sit-down conversations with companies and figure out what synergies exist that will benefit everyone. One of the things that are so important to us is experiential education and the only way to do that is to build relationships with key influencers and people that are on the ground doing things.

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    About the author

    • Ma. Eliza Villarino

      Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.