Small Protest Staged Outside Catamount Arts Over Vaccination Policy

Mary Hauser, of Newark, left, and a local woman who refused to provide her name stand on the sidewalk in front of Catamount Arts on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, to challenge Catamount Arts' COVID protocols. (Photo by Dana Gray)

Almost every day we seem to report a pandemic-related local controversy. Most often they’re over vaccinations, or masks, and involve some poor school board volunteer taking fire for carrying out someone else’s idea of best policy.

Yesterday we had the story of a small group of protesters outside Catamount Arts who take issue with Catamount’s requirement that patrons show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of an event.

The protesters think that infringes on their rights and shouldn’t be a prerequisite to their enjoyment of the arts. One protester held a sign that said “The Arts Should Not Discriminate.” They said there’s no allowance for those with natural immunity and the number of breakthrough cases means everyone should have to produce negative PCR tests.

Catamount Arts Executive Director Jody Fried explained the Catamount policy maximizes opportunities for all to enjoy the arts and “is consistent among arts organizations throughout the region and recognizes that both physical safety and community arts are vital public health resources.”

Martin Bryan, Catamount’s membership and room rental coordinator, said the arts organization has received feedback from show-goers who say they appreciate Catamount’s COVID protocols.

We’re squarely in that camp.

We doubt that anyone who goes into the creative economy does so to be on the frontline of public health controversies. After almost a full year in which they were forced to shutter, the folks at Catamount Arts know “the show must go on” or there won’t be any future shows. They’re doing the best they can to safely deliver arts to the greatest number of people in difficult circumstances.

All of us who are running businesses or delivering services are left to rely on doctors and public health officials for prescriptions and best practices. We aren’t doing that to be controversial or to plant a flag in the culture wars. We’re doing it because it’s better than any alternative we’ve seen.

Once upon a time, when facts and truth existed, it was incontrovertible to take advice from a doctor. That’s because they were always the smartest kids in the class; took the hardest courses in the best colleges; kept going to school long after the rest of us stopped; took oaths to do no harm; and dedicated their lives to caring for others.

In our rough paradigm of “who should we listen to on matters of science and health?” that still ranks these pillars of our community higher than Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson.

Their public health prescriptions may not be perfect, but neither should they be the enemy of the good. Good, in our view, is Catamount Arts trying desperately to fulfill its mission against impossible odds. That hardly seems grounds for protest.

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