How You Can Help
You can support the work of future artists and arts educators by participating in “Take a Giant Step.” The campaign will continue until all keys are named. For more information, contact Eileen Kennedy or visit Take a Giant Step.
When “Take a Giant Step,” a new work of art inspired by John Coltrane’s jazz masterpiece “Giant Steps,” is installed this coming spring at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, it will mark an important milestone in Mason’s commitment to community arts education.
“Take a Giant Step” is not only a striking addition to the walls of the recently completed Education and Rehearsal Wing, it also anchors a fundraising campaign supporting the Hylton Center’s arts education and outreach efforts.
The work depicts 100 “keys,” colored in gold or mother of pearl, representing the keys of Coltrane’s famous saxophone. Donors who sponsor a key can choose to have their name, the name of their company or someone they wish to honor, or a quote engraved on the key. Gold Key sponsorship is $2,500, and Mother of Pearl Key sponsorship is $5,000; all can be paid over the course of five years. With more than 25 keys already claimed, the goal of the Take a Giant Step campaign is to raise at least $375,000.
“This campaign represents our community of supporters saying that the arts, and arts education, are important to them,” said Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Center and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Placing their names on those keys is a very visible and lasting demonstration of their commitment, and it’s fitting that the recognition is, itself, a work of art.”
Donations will support arts education, including performing arts classes offered through a new partnership with the Mason Community Arts Academy, the Veterans and the Arts Initiative, and offerings of the Arts Alliance—a network of community arts groups who call the Hylton Center their artistic home. In addition, ten percent of the funds raised will support the Hylton Center endowment, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Center’s artistic and educational programs.
Why “Giant Steps”? With its complexity and virtuosity, learning to play Coltrane’s piece is often seen as a rite of passage for jazz musicians—a giant step in their musical education. As the installation panel text states: “In this Wing, students and artists will take giant steps—to learn, educate, rehearse, perform, and collaborate to achieve artistic heights and delve into the depths of their own creativity.”
Located on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus in Manassas, the Hylton Performing Arts Center was created in partnership with Prince William County, the City of Manassas, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since its opening in 2010 the Hylton Center has become the cultural hub of Prince William County and surrounding communities. The Education and Rehearsal Wing, which opened in December 2019, added 17,000 square feet of space for rehearsals, classes, and performances.
—Rob Riordan, December 8, 2020