It feels like I’ve again taken the best seat in the house.
By house, I mean the Chippewa Valley cultural scene. The seat is the Leader-Telegram’s entertainment reporter position, to which I’m gratefully returning more than 17 years after I stepped away from the beat to take a copy editor job at the paper.
Already, the seat feels comfortable as I survey the various events calendars from presenters in the region and note the entertainment scene’s wealth of talent has continued to grow — and grow and grow and grow — from the impressive level it was at during my previous tenure.
Obviously, this enviable seat won’t afford much time to sit. The decade I previously spent in this job consistently left me in awe of the groups and individuals from here who work their magic in so many diverse artistic pursuits. They include musicians, theater artists, visual art creators in wildly diverse media, writers, humorists, filmmakers and dancers who have wowed local audiences and in some cases earned international acclaim. The arts scene also is enriched by the host of big-league talents from elsewhere who swing through to perform at festivals and at other venues.
All of this answers the question of why I continue to consider this job such a joy. Obviously, it affords me more opportunities to enjoy performances of all types. But beyond that, I get the rare privilege of meeting these creators and, to use the past as a reliable guide, finding their artistic skills are matched by the insight and thoughtfulness they share to explain the processes, goals and inspirations that go along with their work.
Covering the arts shows you a lot about possibilities, creativity, determination, beauty and excellence. So I’m eager to renew acquaintances with the many, many people I was privileged to write about my first go-round as well as those who I’ll meet for the first time to share their stories.
As much as I’m tempted to mention names, we don’t have enough ink or news space. More importantly, I’d leave out an equal number of those to whom I’m indebted. So all I can say is I hope you’ll join me on this journey so you can meet them too.
But as we all know, with privilege comes responsibility. And I pledge to put my curiosity, preparation, skills and stamina to work in sharing with our readers the opportunity I’ve been blessed with.
I don’t underestimate the challenges that go along with that, including limitations of time and news space and simply keeping up with everything that’s happening. That’s why I don’t just welcome but am counting on readers to share with me ideas about how I can better cover this amazing scene.
But one thing I have no doubt about: The memorable creative work of those who live in as well as visit the Chippewa Valley will continue to shine, which will make it that much easier for me to notice from my vantage point.