Bonnaroo Works Fund Executive Director Nina Miller with 2015 Bonnaroo Works Fund Ambassadors My Morning Jacket
She turns Scrabble pieces and six-strings into artwork. When she needs help, she enlists the likes of The Avett Brothers and My Morning Jacket. And status quo? It’s met its match.
Bonnaroo, meet Nina Miller, the Bonnaroo Works Fund’s first Executive Director.
“The purpose of the Bonnaroo Works Fund is to help foster the community — the philanthropic spirit that lives here for four days,” says the fiery redhead. “We want that to perpetrate throughout the entire year.”
Since the beginnings of Bonnaroo, the festival has donated school band uniforms, funded a local skate park, and has given back to the community of Middle Tennessee. Years of Bonnaroo’s good works eventually paved the way for the creation of the 2009-born Bonnaroo Works Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Bonnaroo Music Festival. As the Fund continued to gain momentum, it became clear a leadership position was needed to continue the growth of the organization. In 2013, Miller stepped in as the first Bonnaroo Works Fund Executive Director.
Under Miller’s leadership, Bonnaroo Works Fund Ambassadors have annually been named, beginning with last year’s Ambassadors, The Avett Brothers and this year’s Ambassadors, My Morning Jacket. The Bonnaroo Works Fund Ambassadors are Bonnaroo artists carefully selected to be that year’s advocate for the foundation. Under her leadership, the Bonnaroo Works Fund organization became a private 501(c)(3) operation in 2014. The hardworking Miller, however, is quick to point out the success of The Bonnaroo Works Fund goes back to the support of the entire Bonnaroo family.
Bonnaroo Works Fund Executive Director Nina Miller with Bonnaroo Works Fund Executive Director Assistant Katie Arata at the Bonnaroo Works Community Center
“Everyone [in the Bonnaroo organization], not just me, everyone from the top down cares [about the Bonnaroo Works Fund],” says Miller.
Prior to starting as Executive Director with the Bonnaroo Works Fund, she acted as Executive Director for the Gibson Foundation, Gibson Guitar’s philanthropic division. The fourteen years she spent with that “wonderful organization” continue to benefit Miller in her current work with the Bonnaroo Works Fund.
“Gibson has been so generous with their support to our charity,” says Miller. “Gibson has made a very generous donation of guitars to The Bonnaroo Works Fund over the years.”
Bonnaroo Works Fund Executive Director Nina Miller with Silent Auction guitars at the Bonnaroo Works Community Center
She also makes it a priority to decorate a guitar each Bonnaroo to commemorate that year’s festival. Scrabble letters listing the Bonnaroo headliners mixed with other art gems are carefully laid onto the guitar. The commemorated guitar is then auctioned off during the Bonnaroo Works Fund silent auction.
Miller adds that Pennsylvania-based company Martin Guitar has been a huge Bonnaroo Works Fund advocate, “donat[ing] seven gorgeous guitars this year. One has an inlaid neck that says ‘Bonnaroo 2015’ on it.”
The Bonnaroo Works Fund team is already looking ahead to other fundraising opportunities post Bonnaroo 2015. “In my world, nothing stays status quo,” Miller says. “If you’re not moving it up, it’s moving down.”
Though she can’t mention any pending specifics at the moment, the Bonnaroo Works Fund website is definitely one you’ll want to keep bookmarked.
“Keep your eye out,” Miller says with a smile.