A-T is taking a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for the AudioMasters Benefit Golf Tournament! The two-day event is hosted by the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund (NERF), a non-profit organization assisting Nashville’s audio engineers and their families in times of crisis, and A-T is proud to be a sponsor of NERF’s annual fundraising event. We had the opportunity to sit down with Frank Wells, the organization’s secretary, where we gained insight on both AudioMasters and the overall scope of NERF. Read the full interview below!
Can you begin by telling us a little about what sparked the idea for the foundation of the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund (NERF) and what exactly the organization does?
In 1997, AES Nashville hosted a successful gear swap meet and we ended up with overflowing coffers—more money than we needed to run the section for a couple of years. When considering what to do with the money, someone noted that a beloved local studio tech was in the hospital with a heart condition. “Let’s write K a check.” Our friend had insurance through his wife, but there were large deductibles and, as a freelancer, he had no workmans’ comp or other means to tide him over while he couldn’t work. The funds bridged the gap. A few months later, a couple of AES committee types suggested holding a fundraising golf tournament. After discussion that we had no idea how to run one was set aside, when discussing what to do with proceeds, someone said, “Like we helped K.” It’s common in our community to be self-employed and have insurance gaps, not through bad planning or irresponsibility, but rather through the nature of the business. So, the AudioMasters was born in 1998, as was the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund (NERF), now a non-profit charitable corporation registered in Tennessee.
Each year, NERF hosts the AudioMasters Benefit Golf Tournament. What exactly does that benefit entail and how does it benefit engineers in need?
The AudioMasters has grown to a two-day event, with a Live Sound focus on a Thursday mid-May each year and a Studio-focused day on Friday. Every hole is sponsored by manufacturers, industry organizations and local companies – studios, live production companies, service and gear providers. We thought it boring to just put up a “This hole sponsored by” sign at a tee, so we asked the sponsors to have a presence and do something at their hole. The AudioMasters has developed into a progressive party on a golf course where you chase a white ball between party stations where food and beverages and swag await, with some novel experiences. It’s a truly unique event, and 2019 marks the 22nd consecutive year of the AudioMasters.
We raise in excess of $30,000 annually for NERF with the AudioMasters. We have very low overhead in administering the fund, with an all-volunteer board and a bit of hired legal and accounting services. Any individual in the greater Nashville audio engineering community that is facing a health or other crisis can request assistance. Requests are reviewed in strict confidence and typically we can write a check within a couple of days.
Can you tell us about some of the moments you’re most proud of from developing this organization?
It’s hugely satisfying to be able to represent the Nashville pro audio community – and we are truly a community as NERF illustrates – in the act of giving a hand-up to fellow community members when they are facing some of the biggest crises in their lives. We’re proud that we’ve survived and even thrived for 22 years, but less because of our efforts and of putting on what is an absolutely amazing event, but because we’ve been a positive force in the community for every one of those years.
We can’t completely cover every situation, but we can and do provide fast assistance to keep housing expenses paid, to keep insurance premiums up-to-date and to cover the necessities of living. NERF provides breathing room and some measure of comfort when tragedy strikes.
Are there plans for any other benefits in the works?
There have been some fundraising events like a concert/memorial event for one of our recipients, arranged by his family. We routinely discuss additional events and folks come to us with offers to make events they are planning a NERF fundraiser. There’s only been one year of NERF’s existence where we’ve spent more than we’ve taken in, so there’s a cushion and no crisis-level urgency. That said, long-term, we’d love to see NERF become self-sustaining.
How can others get involved with NERF or contribute to the organization?
Come participate in the AudioMasters! Play or sponsor or both. We keep the sponsorship costs reasonable to encourage participation and to encourage companies to be comfortable with making each hole an event. Bring us ideas for events that could be enhanced by being a NERF fundraiser. Direct contributions can be made via PayPal from the NERF/AudioMasters website, www.theaudiomasters.org
What do you think about the AudioMasters Benefit Golf Tournament? Let us know in the comments below!