No gig is complete without an encore.
Near-rioted for or not, it's tradition. So this will be my last-but-one production of The Gisborne Herald arts pages before my encore next week, after which I leave the building.
I'm humbled and hon — no, that won't do.
I've been privileged enough to — no, this isn't a self-promotional column.
OK, maybe a little self-promotional. The coolest thing about getting paid to write is getting paid to write because writing is what I do.
My role as reporter takes me into all sorts of odd and brilliant corners where I get to meet brilliant, and sometimes odd, people (often the same thing), get swept up in their passion, and their vernacular — the language that comes with that passion — in whatever field they're working in — health, business, medicine, ecology, horticulture, cuisine, science (madder than the arts) etc, but above all, the arts.
As The Gisborne Herald arts reporter since 2017, I've loved writing about, supporting and being part of the local arts community.
An arts pages lead in 2017 about graphic designs by various artists for the annual Makorori First Light Longboard Surfing Classic was one I had in mind for a long time and saved for the day when I'd get the arts round.
I don't know yet what my final lead will be but something cool will turn up — despite Jesse Mulligan's absurd comment, in his summer holiday series about places he'd visited, that Gisborne wasn't the sort of place that attracted many gigs from out of town.
Not only do we get a lot of them coming here, a phenomenal amount of arts productions come out of this region so there's rarely a shortage of material.
Among highlights from the five years I have been the Herald arts reporter are stories about former Auckland City organist, Dr John Wells, whose woolshed venue for an organ concert was a world first.
A call-out for the return of Moses Hiakita's bass guitar is memorable, not only because of community contributions raised at a Bluesday Fundraiser and collection jar at Smash Palace for a new bass, but because of the return of the original.
Moments before a photographer and I arrived at a music shop for a picture of Moses and others, the thieves who had stolen his bass parked out front and tried to sell the instrument to a second-hand store.
They were seen helping police with their inquiries shortly afterwards.
The Flying Moas artists 1986-1995 collective was a moment in history as was their retrospective and reunion years later.
School students Jack Heikell, Will Toon, Zach Stock and Shea Rolfe's story about their experimental sci-fi and sacrifice film that won the 2017 regional HP48 hours film-making competition was a lot of fun.
My own arts projects during my 10 years with the Herald include joining the Gisborne Choral Society for its production of the profoundly-affecting modern mass for peace, Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man; curating two small exhibitions at Muirs Cafe; bombing an Auckland Art Gallery toilet cubicle with a conceptual art piece called My Five Year Old Can Do Better Than That during the 2012 Walters prize exhibition, followed up by bombing a Wallace Arts Centre toilet cubicle (also in Auckland) with the same work as a contribution to the 21st annual Wallace awards.
Another highlight was flying to Berlin in 2018 to join more than 2000 singers from around the world in a Karl Jenkins-conducted production of The Armed Man, and finding, on return, my conceptual artwork entry into the Te Ha art awards had won the people's choice award and a generous purse from arts patron, Jack Richards.
I also launched my blog, badcactus.org, my Salon des Refuses, if you will, after my more outre and obscure stuff was banned from the Weekender column.
More of my memorable moments include honking as a rustic villager as part of a pop-up chorus in the New Zealand Opera Company's 2018 production of Mozart's comedy The Marriage of Figaro opera; taking on a lead singing role in the same year as Wilfred Shadbolt, the oafish executioner and head torturer in a Gisborne Choral Society concert performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's absurdly comic opera, Yeoman of the Guard; playing “white James” in the 2019 Tairawhiti Arts Festival's directed play-reading of Robert O'Hara's blisteringly dark satire, Barbecue; and, more recently, meeting with Wairoa artist Joanna Tokona who talked me through her extraordinary exhibition before I carried on to Hawke's Bay for a combined production with Gisborne and Hastings choral societies of Mozart's Requiem — possibly the most supreme moment of my life.
But writing is what I do and I'll continue that as a freelance journalist, so chances are I'll be in touch again for stories.
Meanwhile, I'm happy Gisborne Herald reporter Jack Marshall is taking over the arts round.
His writing has verve, fine phrasing, a flair for colour but, above all, he is interested in the arts.
So thank you all for giving me such cool stories to write, and thanks to the Herald photographers for the pictures to accompany them; thanks to sub-editor Tayla Pearce for the popping layouts, and thanks to the Herald's graphic designers for the cool front page artwork.
It's been emotional.