Visiting artist event Thursday canceled in Bettendorf over mask policy, moved to Moline

Local News

Jazzy Ash,. the current Quad City Arts Visiting Artist, is now performing at the Moline Public Library at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Family Museum in Bettendorf cancelled a planned appearance Oct. 28 from the latest visiting artist from Quad City Arts, Jazzy Ash, because she requires patrons to wear face masks. The museum decision didn’t sit well with some commenters on the 2,200-member COVID-safe Quad Cities Facebook group.

“Why not just require masks for that event?? This is getting ridiculous. You SHOULD have options for those people who do want to attend events with masks…or at least don’t mind wearing them to events that require it,” posted Katie Mettee. “You’re punishing a whole set of patrons you could be serving…even if it is occasionally. Sad you’d rather no kids get to experience it, than require masks for an event.”

“This is an opportunity for you – as an educational institution – to do the right thing rather than what’s proscribed by some non-caring politician,” wrote Michael Ryan.

“I’m so glad the artist values her own and her audience’s safety,” Jenny Pangolin posted. “I’m surprised masks are not required.”

“Gee, an artist who doesn’t want to expose herself and innocent children to a deadly disease. How dare her!” wrote Sandra Nichols on the museum’s Facebook page.

The Family Museum first posted on Facebook Tuesday: “We are not able to require our visitors to wear masks due to the fact that we are a municipal building and the mandate set forth by the Governor of Iowa.”

In May, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation that blocks mask mandates from being implemented in K-12 schools and prohibits cities and counties from requiring facial coverings in businesses .Under the law, public and private schools cannot enforce or implement a policy requiring school employees, students, or visitors to wear a facial covering while on the premises — unless for a “specific extracurricular or instructional purpose” or as required under existing Iowa law for eye and ear protective devices.

Masks can still be worn optionally, but cities and counties could now require property owners to have a mask policy “that is more stringent than a policy imposed by the state.”

In mid-September, state officials were blocked from enforcing Iowa’s law against school-issued mask mandates, after a federal judge ruled in favor of families challenging the law. A judge in Des Moines ruled that the ban on mask mandates creates an unfair risk for students with serious health conditions to attend class in-person.

The decision meant school districts across the state can now issue universal mask requirements, as the CDC recommends, as long as the temporary order is in place. Districts in Davenport and Muscatine adopted mask mandates for schools, that went into effect Sept. 20, and were met with some parent protests.

Later Tuesday, after responding to comments on the Family Museum Facebook page, the city-owned museum posted: “The Family Museum is a department of the City of Bettendorf, therefore we abide by their policy that masks are encouraged but optional for guests.”

Kim Kidwell, Family Museum director, said Tuesday: “The Family Museum is a department of the City of Bettendorf, therefore we abide by their policy that masks are encouraged but not required for our guests.” She declined to comment further on the Visiting Artist Series decision.

Jazzy Ash is a performer who requires audiences to wear face coverings.

The Scott County Health Department recommends everyone wear a mask in indoor public places while transmission of the coronavirus is sustained and/or high in our community. In Davenport, the Putnam Museum & Science Center, and Figge Art Museum require patrons to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Mask policies are mixed in the Quad Cities

Kevin Maynard, executive director of Quad City Arts, said Wednesday: “The masking policies in the schools have been mixed. The State of Illinois requires them in schools, as well as all indoor settings. The State of Iowa does not mandate masks in schools, but school districts can require them and some have. Even in schools where they are not required, there are students who still wear them.

“Like many venues and organizations, we are working with artists based on their preferences and their comfort level,” he said. “Some are requiring masks, some are asking to only be distanced from their audience, and some are asking for both.

“This is a complicated topic for artists, not only for their safety, but also for their livelihood,” Maynard said. “If any member of the group is exposed or gets sick, they have to quarantine and that could mean cancelling shows. We do not want to force our artists into any situation they may not be comfortable with.”

In place of the Bettendorf visit, the Moline Public Library will host Jazzy Ash instead on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free at the library, 3210 41st St., Moline.

The state of Illinois (since Sept. 3) requires all individuals over the age of 2 and who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear a face covering when in indoor public places.

Jazzy Ash is both a singer/songwriter and music educator, who holds a degree in early childhood education.

Born Ashli St. Armant, Jazzy Ash is a celebrated songwriter, music educator; founder of Leaping Lizards Music Programs, and performs nationally with her band as Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards. She grew up influenced by the music from her mother’s hometown of New Orleans, as well as by her father’s Trinidadian culture. She trained professionally in music and theater through her high school and college years and holds a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Ash was last at the Moline library in 2019. For Thursday, seating is limited and registration is requested — at https://molinelibrary.librarymarket.com/…/jazzy-ash… Masks are required for all indoor library events, for individuals age 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status.

Jazzy Ash also will perform for free Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Muscatine Art Center Music Room (1314 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine), and they’re asking that masks be worn in the performance area.

Get a preview of Jazzy’s musical style at on her website: www.jazzyash.com.

The Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Series makes performing arts accessible by bringing the program directly to schools and other community venues — providing access to see live performances that would otherwise be out of reach. Learn more at www.quadcityarts.com/vas.

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