The presidency of the AES offers a singular vantage point to observe how a diverse group of individuals work together to champion the Society’s mission, says Frank Wells, whose term as president will end shortly after the conclusion of the 135th AES Convention.
“The Audio Engineering Society is a unique organization,” he said. “We are part of an industry that is also a community. We have a small, dedicated, hard-working (overworked) staff, so conducting much of the business of the society falls heavily on volunteers—the Board Of Governors, local section committees, conference development, even in standards development. That includes the Convention Committees that develop these remarkable technical programs, and their Chairs— Jim Anderson at the 135th in NYC and Umberto Zanghieri at the 134th in Rome, most recently. Their devotion to our community and to the mission of AES is awe inspiring.”
The efforts of the 135th Convention Committee and sub-committee’s will be on display in four days packed with events, activities, technical sessions and workshops. “At the 135th AES Convention, there is clear evidence of initiatives to reach out to even more of the professional audio community,” Wells explained. “The Project Studio Expo, begun last fall, has returned. The PSE is joined by the Systems Sound Symposium, along with strong program tracks on game sound, live sound, digital audio networking, broadcast audio, sound for picture and more.”
The program content for the convention also illustrates the diverse nature of the Society’s membership, Wells said. “Our members are all involved in professional audio, but within that commonality, there is a lot of diversity. We’re nearing two years of staff leadership under Executive Director, Bob Moses, and when Bob has not been consumed by managing all the day-to-day tasks that the staff handles, he’s worked to evaluate every aspect of the Society’s activities: how members are being served, how their needs differ from stakeholder group to stakeholder group, and where we can improve. The fruits of those efforts are seen in Convention initiatives like the Project Studio Expo, but also in working maximize the full potential of our vast e-library, of the Journal of the AES, of newsletters and the AES.org website and through the staff interface with sponsor companies and sustaining members.”
One particular push this year is about to bear fruit. “The migratory nature of the AES’ European conventions, traveling to various cities instead of being fixed in one place, has made it difficult for the professional staff of AES to organize and choose a site for more than one convention at a time,” Wells said. “This year in Rome, we decided to change that by getting the Convention Policy Committee and European regional vice presidents more involved in the process of selecting a locale. Berlin has recently been announced as the destination for 2014—announced later than we’d like and roughly in keeping with past models. But work on the 2015 and 2016 convention locations is underway, and we expect that we’ll announce the 2015 locale well over a year in advance, and with the 2016 site selection, reach a goal of an announcement around two years in advance.”
With lingering troubles in the international economy and changes within pro audio, the AES is not without challenges to address: “Significant may be too soft an adjective to use for the challenges that professional membership organizations, conventions and technology exhibitions face. The professional audio industry as a whole has undergone two decades of technological and business revolution, and we are all trying to keep up and adapt.”
That said, Wells exits his presidency bullish on the Society’s future. “We entered 2013, the 65th year of AES’ history, with a sense of optimism and hope,” he said, “and AES continues to adapt to a changing world with that enthusiasm intact. I look forward to the leadership of Sean Olive as he takes charge for the coming year. Challenges remain, but progress is being made and the Society is moving forward.”
Audio Engineering Society