The Fourth of July Philadelphia Freedom Concert and Ball headlined by Elton, drew well over 500,000 people to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was seen by a television audience of over a half-million others and raised a net total of $1.1 million for EJAF and the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, making it one of the largest HIV/AIDS fundraisers in Philadelphia history, as well as the largest HIV/AIDS awareness concert ever held, organizers announced on October 28, 2005.
With expenses paid and income tallied, the total revenue for
the event – including sponsorships, grants, vending, ticket sales, phone bank, web donations and in-kind contributions – came to $3.6 million. This offset a total budget including expenses for concert production, staging, coordination, marketing and the like of $2.5 million, resulting in the net total profit of $1.1
million. Of that total, EJAF will distribute $800,000 toward its fight to help the millions of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa
and other countries hard hit by HIV/AIDS around the globe, while targeting $200,000 to help the estimated 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients in the Philadelphia region. The remaining $100,000 netted by the Hirschfeld Fund will also stay local, to be distributed to HIV/AIDS service organisations by the AIDS Fund.
AIDS groups across the region are enthusiastic with the results.
“Our July 4th celebration this year was a tremendous success, with the Elton John concert being one of those special moments that will surely go into the city’s history books,” commented Mayor John F. Street. “We are proud to once again stand at the forefront of history, leading the call to action against HIV/AIDS with this momentous effort. The Philadelphia
Freedom Concert not only raised much-needed funds, it brought recognition and new understanding that will, with continued effort, make a lasting difference here and around the world.”
Pennsylvania’s Governor Edward G. Rendell called the results
a testament to the generosity of citizens and the tremendous amount of awareness of the AIDS epidemic, adding, “We thank the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the people of Philadelphia for leading the way in this global effort to fight HIV/AIDS, as this event served as a conduit for spotlighting their tireless efforts as we search for a cure for this brutal disease.”
Stated Executive Producer Mark Segal, “Since the day of our announcement last February, the people of Philadelphia and more than 60 AIDS service organisations throughout the region embraced our cause, sharing the vision and giving us the support and insight that enabled us to build this AIDS quilt we
called The Philadelphia Freedom Concert with Sir Elton. That support, together with the progressive vision and unstinting efforts of our city’s leaders, officials, police, fire, sanitation and every city department, helped our small organisation accomplish the impossible – one of the largest AIDS fund raisers in Philadelphia history, the largest and best produced July 4th
concert in Philadelphia history, the first July 4th celebration that made a profit for charity that anyone can remember. And it made Philadelphians proud of their city and their historic heritage. That is humbling.”
However, the show, which also featured names like Patti LaBelle and Bryan Adams, and fund raiser accounted for only part of the success of the overall event. A month-long awareness campaign coordinated by Jane Shull, executive director of Philadelphia FIGHT, to coincide with June’s AIDS Education Month and focused on the theme Get Tested, Get Treated, resulted in the largest HIV/AIDS awareness effort ever in the region, with more than 100 AIDS education events held between June 1 and July 4th, including an integrated week of free testing efforts around the area.
“We were honored and thrilled to have been part of this effort,” said Jane. “In a time when it is easy for people to turn away from the AIDS epidemic, seeing the numbers of people who were willing to spend so much time and effort for this cause was inspiring. Thanks to the support of the Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, AIDS Education Month this year was an outstanding success.
We reached twice as many people as ever before in workshops, seminars and conferences, and many thousands more through the media. As a result, we know that many people in Philadelphia know how to protect themselves and we have taken real steps toward reducing the stigma and discrimination directed against people in our community who are living with – not dying from – HIV.”
Commented Nurit Shein, executive director of the Mazzoni Center, which operates the Mazzoni Testing Van, “After twenty years people have gotten ‘used’ to HIV/AIDS and most are showing ‘disease fatigue.’ Raising awareness is the only way to create the drive that enables us to continue the fight
against AIDS and brings resources to sustain that fight. The Freedom Concert and Elton did just that for Philadelphia on the 4th of July this year. It was not only an exhilarating musical performance, it reminded each and everyPhiladelphian that the fight is not yet over, and that we must all continue to do our part.”
Televised regionally by WPVI-TV 6ABC, the show pulled in the highest ratings of that night, beating all local broadcast competition across the country, as well as the Philadelphia region broadcasts of the New York and Boston celebrations combined. All told, more than half a million people
watched the Rocket Man perform on the telecast, in addition to the well over half million who attended the event.