At BREC, our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation. This month, we introduce you to one of the volunteers who has been with us the longest, Garry Crowd.
Our Volunteer Spotlight for February is Garry Crowd. A stalwart amongst the BREC Volunteers, Garry’s can-do positive attitude is one of the many qualities that make him a wonderful asset to BREC. Forever with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, Garry is someone who instantly makes you feel warm and welcome. He even made the human behind this article tear up doing the interview. He’s just that lovely.
An eternal supporter of Australian music and young performers alike, Garry has been a BREC Volunteer since before he can actually remember, “I can’t tell you how long exactly, it was 1990-something. I was on the old committee ‘Friends of the Theatre’ in the early 2000s and was Secretary for a while there. I’ve been around awhile,” he states with a cheeky smile.
But Garry would prefer not to have the spotlight on him, “Don’t make it about me. Make it about BREC and the arts of the region. That’s what’s important.”
So, whilst Garry would rather the spotlight remain on BREC and the wider south west arts community, this is actually one of the reasons why we appreciate him so much and will, for the moment, place the spotlight firmly in his direction (sorry Garry).
Garry’s Volunteer patronage with BREC started many years before when an old Boss asked him to pitch in, “An old Boss at the Water Corp asked me to give him a hand one night behind the Candy Bar. All I needed was a white shirt, black pants and a bow tie. I’ve been here ever since.”
“Early days, I worked the Candy Bar and I eventually became an Assistant Manager at one point, which I enjoyed. I enjoy all of it. I used to leave shows late, which I never minded, I would be chatting to all the performers and the people. Then I’d walk back to the Bunbury Tower and grab my bike to ride home. That was just what you did back then, ride your bike. It was great.”
Volunteering and working within the Bunbury community is in his blood according to Garry. It’s what his parents did and his grandparents before them – all choosing to contribute in their own way and within their own passion or pursuit, “Community has always been us, been in my family. We never saw it as that at the time though, we just mucked in and did what needed to be done but it is that way I guess now I look at it. You’ve got to put your hand up when things need doing.”
“I have all my parents and grandparent’s awards for their work in the community and I am happy to be doing the same.” We feel incredibly grateful that Garry has chosen BREC as his place to volunteer.
A particular passion of Garry’s is to make the experience of coming to BREC memorable for children and families. Not just for those watching the shows but the children of the South West who get to perform on stage at BREC as part of their artistic pursuits.
“One of the things I love about the Entertainment Centre, my greatest enjoyment being here, is to be here for the local schools, graduations, eisteddfods, dance concerts and school performances. Getting our local people and local kids on the stage and giving them a start.”
For Garry, this is how he believes you encourage and foster a love of the arts for a whole new generation which, to Garry, is incredibly important, “Get the kids in here with the best lighting, the biggest possible audience, all the bells and whistles. Give them the best experience possible when they’re ready. Whether they’re four or in their thirties, give them a place to do their art. That’s why BREC is important.”
From his years of parenting his own four children, Garry believes music is a path to higher learning and that the arts open children’s minds to new and exciting frontiers, “Music whether it’s played via an instrument or sung, is a brain stimulant. It helps with learning and higher learning. It’s important. It needs to be made important for kids.”
A passionate supporter of Australian artists, Garry loves to see Aussies succeed and believes they deserve a voice, “The world isn’t black and white. It’s colourful. Everyone deserves a stage. I love local artists and Aussie artists, they’re my favourite. People like Kasey Chambers. I remember hearing her for the first time and I thought – I like her. I want to hear more of that. Aussie artists and singers doing well.”
Garry believes BREC is one of the most wonderful places you can volunteer, as it contributes to the local community and is endlessly enjoyable. Garry will effortlessly sell you on the importance of BREC and of bringing the arts to the south west.
“BREC doesn’t just bring culture to Bunbury, you can’t just say Bunbury, because it’s bigger than that. We bring culture to the whole region. The whole south west. We bring culture in the background as well with the smaller community events that are just as important.”
“The whole reason I do this, volunteer at BREC, you’re volunteering somewhere people want to be. Your role is to be smiling and be a happy person and that makes my day. Seeing people enjoy themselves and making people happy. We’re here, the volunteers, because we want to make it memorable.”
Garry, we cannot thank you enough for your contribution to not just BREC but to the wider Bunbury community and for being such a loyal advocate of BREC and patron of the arts. You continue to spread your infectious smile and kindness to everyone you meet and we love that you get to do that at BREC.
We will leave you with a delightful reminder from Garry that choosing kindness when dealing with strangers is always the best approach, “Kindness is important because you don’t know what people have going on in their lives. They might be having the worst day of their life, they might have gotten the worst news ever, so you need to be kind when you deal with them.”
We think we can all agree, the world could do with a lot more kindness and a lot more Garry.