The Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Education Initiative, supported through the Performing Arts for Kids Fund, has served approximately 157,000 artists, arts students, and patrons of the arts from the very young to the young at heart.
Performing Arts for Kids (PAK) was founded in 2013 as an organization with a vision to support educational performances and programs at the Hylton Center and beyond. Founded by longtime Hylton Center volunteers and supporters Mary Postma and Claire Machosky-Ullman, PAK was run by a dedicated corps of volunteers, many of whom had former careers in education. The team, which included Penny Barrows, Nadine Bishop, Leah Brogdon, Sue Farris, Gail Petty, and Judy Smith, offered a keen understanding of the challenges of students and educators alike.
Inspired by field trips to New York City’s Lincoln Center, Machosky-Ullman had the idea to expose local students to the arts. “I said to Mary [Postma], ‘We have to do something where we can bring children into this beautiful center,’” said Machosky-Ullman. “It will blow them away.”
Through fundraising, grants, corporate sponsorships, and commemorative ornament sales, PAK raised funds to bring education-focused programming to the Hylton Center, featuring field trip performances, Technical Theater Boot Camp scholarships, and teacher appreciation initiatives.
In 2019, PAK was elevated as a Hylton Center funding priority within the Friends of the Hylton Center, and the “Performing Arts for Kids at the Hylton Center” fund was officially established to support Education Initiative programming for all ages.
The PAK tradition of arts engagement lives on in the Hylton Center Education Initiative, in masterclasses, workshops, and curriculum-integrated programming developed in partnership with the Prince William County, City of Manassas, and City of Manassas Park school systems, as well as the surrounding counties, private schools, and homeschool groups.
In 2019, the Education Initiative brought programming into the schools through workshops, and later through virtual workshops and field trips developed during the pandemic. Virtual programs continue to be in high demand.
During the 2022–2023 season, the initiative hosted more than 33 events, including field trip performances, workshops, masterclasses, and backstage tours. That same year, the initiative was formally recognized by the Prince William County Arts Council for its outstanding impact on arts education in the Prince William County community.
“As a graduate of Prince William County Schools, I am thrilled that we are able to offer such diverse artistic experiences to local students,” said Marit Majeske, education coordinator at the Hylton Center.
The legacy of Performing Arts for Kids has been memorialized through the naming of the “PAK Hub”—a suite of practice rooms, generously named by Claire Machosky-Ullman and Al Ullman, in the center’s Education and Rehearsal Wing. Ongoing support for the Education Initiative is provided in part by Lillian Ballard.
The Education Initiative is supported 100% by philanthropy, and the Hylton Center is grateful to lead sponsor Amazon Web Services, as well as the Friends of the Hylton Center, Lillian Ballard, the McNichols Family Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and SPARK, as well as to the many individual and corporate donors who support the initiative’s work every day.
Interested in supporting the work of the Education Initiative? There are multiple ways you can make a difference:
- Purchase an ornament from our collection of current and past Hylton Center commemorative ornaments. Learn more
- Join the Friends of the Hylton Center where 10% of your membership will directly support education programming at the Hylton Center
- Make a gift of any amount to the Performing Arts for Kids Fund
- Consider volunteering with the Hylton Center
This article previously appeared in slightly different form on November 1, 2023 in GMU’s CVPA News: https://hyltoncenter.org/news/2023-10/celebrating-legacy-performing-arts-kids-pak-and-education-initiative