The World’s Big Sleep Out in Times Square Featuring Will Smith

December 2019. New York City, Times Square

Created by Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of the Scottish charity and sandwich shop Social Bite, the 2019 World’s Big Sleep Out campaign hosted over 50,000 people sleeping out on the same night in dozens of cities around the world to raise money and awareness about homelessness and internationally displaced people. Empire was thrilled to produce the New York flagship event featuring Will Smith in the heart of New York City: Times Square.

The event was run in partnership with the Institute for Global Homelessness (IGH), UNICEF USA, Malala Fund, Coalition for the Homeless, and Social Bite. This year’s Sleep Outs took place in iconic locations such as Times Square (New York) and Trafalgar Square (London), alongside the major cities of Edinburgh, Dublin, New Delhi, Los Angeles, and many others.

Empire was proud to support the cause and produce the Sleep Out in Times Square, working closely with the Times Square Alliance, The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events, SAPO, NYC Parks Department, NYPD, and many others who helped ensure the event’s success and safety. Hundreds of people slept in sleeping bags, generously donated by Modell’s Sporting Goods, across four Broadway plazas spanning from 43rd to 47th Streets, braving the below-freezing overnight temperatures.

To kick off the event, a live program featured performances by Broadway star Jeannette Bayardelle, local NYC buskers, pianist James Matthews, On Site Opera, The War & Treaty, and Jay Buchanan. Comedian Dulcé Sloan hosted the program and charity partners such as UNICEF USA, Breaking Ground, Coalition for the Homeless, and Ali Forney Center, as well as NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer gave speeches in support of the Sleep Out.

The program ended with a bedtime story from award-winning actor Will Smith, who performed a rendition of the iconic “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song.

On Sunday morning, participants arose from their sleeping bags at 5:30 AM with a sense of what it means to be homeless in New York City. The sleeping bags have since been donated to nonprofit organizations including Coalition for the Homeless, The Bowery Mission, and The Church of St. Francis Xavier.

Empire is a leading producer of nonprofit events and we are honored to have played an integral part of this campaign.

To support or learn more about The World’s Big Sleep Out, please visit:

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