My Place: Tony Rains

(Damjan Janevski)

Tony Rains is the president of the Sunbury Community Arts Network and the treasurer of the Boilerhouse Theatre Company. Last week, more than 400 of Australia’s biggest live music and performing acts added their name to #Vaxthenation campaign, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help kick start the arts sector.

He spoke with Oliver Lees about how Sunbury’s creative industry has fared through the pandemic.

What is your connection to Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges?

My family and I came to Sunbury from Yarrawonga in 1994. I wanted to become involved in the local community as I was in previous communities so I joined Apex Sunbury, the Sunbury Traders Association, Sunbury Scouts Leadership, the Boilerhouse Theatre Company (BTC) and Sunbury Arts and District Cultural Board, now Sunbury Community Arts Network, (SCAN).

My children have grown up and attended various schools in Sunbury. I completed my diploma in performing arts at Vic Uni in Sunbury on Jacksons Hill and then took on a teaching role there in the same course.

Why did you decide to get involved in the Boilerhouse Theatre Company?

Prior to my family’s move to Sunbury I was involved with community theatre companies in Yarrawonga and Corowa, both on stage and in production. It was a natural progression to participate in the BTC, and it led very quickly to SCAN. The BTC has always been a very family orientated organisation that has fostered enhanced self-confidence, self-esteem, learning and having fun as well as providing high class live entertainment for the community.

SCAN was, back in the late 90s, involved in a major project to build a theatre at The Boilerhouse Community Arts Centre. The vision of this precinct is to provide a destination that preserves and celebrates its significant cultural heritage and supports arts, community, social and learning activities. I hope we can recommence the planning stages as soon as the pandemic has eased.

Hundreds of Australians working in the arts and performance sector have signed on to the #VaxTheNation campaign. How has the pandemic affected the Boilerhouse and its ability to operate?

We at SCAN and the BTC have been affected by the pandemic, like most people, and particularly people involved in the arts and performance sectors. The user groups of the Boilerhouse Community Arts Centre have had to cancel many events like theatre performances, arts shows, workshops, classes, and meetings. We are eager to get back to business and this will only happen if our community jumps on the wagon to get vaccinated for yourself, for your family and for your community.

What are you most looking forward to when the company is able to begin performing again?

We all hear the talk about mental health issues, it would be good to be able to address some of those issues by providing opportunities for the community to be involved in artistic pursuits. We have artists and performers who are very keen to get back on the bike, at the easel, on the stage, or at the pottery wheel. To discover what the new normal is in the future, these people are also willing to take others with them to experience a variety of artistic pursuits.

Once the Arts Centre re-opens we, like most organisations, hope to re-establish communications and marketing so members of the community enjoy some of the opportunities we can offer.