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COVID & the Arts: 2020 Metro Arts

downtown Moline at 1516 6th Ave.
Credit WVIK News
Rock Island 11th Street and 21st Ave.

Because of COVID-19, Quad City Arts made changes to this summer’s Metro Arts program. 

Just as last year was unusual for the Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship program, this summer has also been unique. Fewer students – ages 15 to 21 – are participating, in fewer projects, and they are wearing face coverings and are social distancing. That does not mean that the two outdoor murals and improvisational comedy being created over the past five weeks are any less meaningful or impressive.

Kevin Maynard, executive director of Quad City Arts, says coronavirus concerns led to some changes in the outdoor work at three locations. Each lead artist wears a mask, for example.

“Every Metro Arts site has a collection of masks available, if the student either doesn’t have one or has forgotten theirs that day, so we can make sure we’re following the social-distancing guidelines and keeping everybody safe.”

Credit Quad City Arts
Kevin Maynard, Executive Director of Quad City Arts.

“I don’t think that our social distancing guidelines that we’re following have hindered the process or progress on any of these projects. It has limited the number of apprentices. Most sites typically have at least 10 apprentices and a lead artist, but with the guidelines in phase 3 being no groups larger than 10, we did have to cut an apprentice from basically each project.”

Compared to 2019, when there were about 90 apprentices working on projects throughout the Quad-Cities in the spring, summer, and fall, this year only about 30 area young people are being provided with five-week paid summer apprenticeships. These apprentices create projects to benefit the community: a mural in Moline, improv comedy, and a mural in Rock Island. These projects were made possible by support from the City of Rock Island, Friendship Manor, Modern Woodmen of America, The Moline Foundation, and Renew Moline.

Since 2000, Metro Arts has provided young people with paid summer apprenticeships in various arts disciplines. They work in groups to complete projects that enhance the community through the arts. Participants learn artistic technique, while developing personally and professionally.

The program allows them to develop new career and artistic skills, build self-confidence, and create a sense of accomplishment as they work under the supervision and mentorship of professional artists. Their mentors are accomplished, local artists who are passionate about teaching and encouraging creativity. 

The mural in Moline is at 1516 6th Ave., on the wall of Bajas Classy Resale, across the street from the mural artist Sarah Robb led in 2018 for the Child Abuse Council (which was supported in part by Quad City Arts’ Arts Dollars, but wasn’t a Metro Arts project).

A larger mural in Rock Island is on three sides of a Friendship Manor maintenance building in Rock Island, at 11th  Street and 21st  Avenue. Since that’s a bigger project,  a separate group of students will finish it, starting in late July. Robb is leading all the groups.

A three-student improv comedy group has been working with ComedySportz veteran Erin Mahr at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island.

Maynard says COVID has forced changes in how Metro Arts will present its annual showcase – it'll be virtual this year, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 9th, on Facebook and the Quad City Arts YouTube channel.

“In a typical year, we would have every apprentice on stage in the same room, on stage, with their friends and family, talking about the projects they’ve completed and showing some pictures. Obviously, that’s not an option this year. So on ‘7 With Kevin Live,’ we are bringing on 3 to 4 people from each group to talk about their project. We would bring on everybody, but we are limited in how many we can have in the program we use, at one time.”

The showcase will display photos of the groups and their work, including recorded clips of the improv group. It’ll be part of Quad City Arts’ newest video series, “7 with Kevin Live.” 

For more information, visit quadcityarts.com.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.
Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.
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