Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Center, is joined by Bishop Lyle Dukes, chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Mason provost David Wu in a ribbon-cutting at the dedication ceremony. / Photos by Evan Cantwell, George Mason University
The arts at George Mason reached a milestone on Dec. 3 with the opening of the Education and Rehearsal Wing, a $13.5 million expansion to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Science and Technology Campus in Prince William.
The 17,000 square feet of added space that the Education and Rehearsal Wing provides—including two large rehearsal halls, six music practice rooms, and two classrooms—will greatly expand the Hylton Center’s use as a place to educate, rehearse, perform, and collaborate.
“The opening of this new wing not only means an expansion of educational offerings at the Hylton Center, but also the opportunity for this community to fully enter into the entire life-cycle of artistic creation,” said Rick Davis, executive director of the center and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, as he addressed about 180 invited guests, including donors, local and regional leaders, and elected officials.
The Hylton Center’s education initiatives reach thousands of students every year, and include community programs for children and adults.
“Education is at the heart of who we are,” Davis said. “All of our education efforts have been supported 100% by philanthropy.”
The Education and Rehearsal Wing features two impressive spaces that will enable arts groups to stage full-scale rehearsals or performances: a large rehearsal hall, which matches the floor size of the center’s main stage in Merchant Hall; and a second rehearsal hall, matching the footprint of the Gregory Family Theater. The latter hall is named the Ballard Postma Studio in recognition of a gift from Hans and Mary Postma of Haymarket, Va.
The entrance to the wing features a painting by Nathan Loda, a Mason School of Art alumnus, depicting participants in the Veterans and the Arts initiative. Through a gift from Mary Postma, that area is named the James H. Ballard Jr. and Captain Curtis R. Ballard Vestibule. A gift from Buck and Julie Waters named the Waters Walk, a corridor gallery that features artwork by Manassas-based visual artist David Labrozzi.
“This new wing represents exponential opportunities for chamber members and the businesses who will use the spaces for meetings, conferences, and special events, but also for all of us who work here and live in this community as well,” said Bishop Lyle Dukes, chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
All of the new spaces will be extensively used by community arts organizations that partner with the Hylton Center. Supporting programs by many of these organizations is Performing Arts for Kids (PAK), a group that raises money to enable local school children to receive free access to Hylton Center performances. Over the past five years, PAK has brought 45,000 students to the center. Recognizing that achievement, the space around the six practice rooms is named the Performing Arts for Kids Hub, thanks to a generous gift from Claire Machosky-Ullman and Al Ullman.
“We wanted that space to commemorate Performing Arts for Kids and all they’ve done for the children,” said Machosky-Ullman, a retired educator who is a co-founder of the group.
The expansion of the center, one of the region’s premier performing arts venues, has been funded in part by $6 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia, along with the generous support of hundreds of private donors, including a lead gift of more than $7.5 million from the Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation.
These and other contributions have spurred the Hylton Center’s Capital and Endowment Campaign, which is now more than 75% of the way towards achieving its $31.5 million goal. Other major contributors to the campaign include Bennett, Atkinson, and Associates P.C., the Wall Foundation, NOVEC, Micron, Donald Coulter and Rosemary Enright, the Parr Family, Eileen Roberts, and Jim and Barbara White.
December 5, 2019 / Rob Riordan