The Hylton Performing Arts Center will not offer any in-person professional performances this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic and social-distancing requirements.
Rick Davis, executive director of the venue and dean of George Mason University's College of Visual and Performing Arts, said the center thoroughly reviewed required safety measures for patrons and performers before making its decision, announced Wednesday in an email and an online video.
"There is no good way to provide a safe, comfortable and artistically satisfying performance environment as long as the current social distancing protocols are in effect," Davis said on the video.
GMU operates the Hylton Center in partnership with Prince William County and the city of Manassas. The center has been closed since mid-March.
The center had previously delayed a formal announcement of its 2020-21 season; it said any ticket buyers would be refunded in full.
"We do like to say that the arts create community. That has never been truer, more vital or more challenging," Davis said. "We are working hard to find meaningful ways to connect with you, our community, until it’s safe and comfortable to return to our venues."
Adrienne Bryant Godwin, director of programming for the Hylton, said the venue is looking for alternative ways to present performances in the fall. She cited the Mason Arts at Home virtual programs that were produced after the venue closed in the spring as an example.
The center said it is exploring alternatives with its community-based arts organizations and other rental partners for their fall programming.
One of the Hylton's community partners, the Manassas Ballet Theatre, is in discussions with the Hylton about how to continue with its fall season, including the holiday performances of the "Nutcracker," said Amy Wolfe, CEO and artistic director of the ballet.
“The Hylton is our partner and together we will try to figure this all out," Wolfe said.
She noted that auditions for children's roles in the "Nutracker" will begin Saturday and will be held both in-person and online, as will the ballet academy's summer programs.
George Mason University announced last week it plans to reopen for the fall semester, but with social distancing requirements in place and a hybrid of remote and in-person learning.
Davis and Godwin will hold a virtual discussion, "Moving Forward: A Conversation with the Hylton Center" on June 24 at 7 p.m., during which they will share more about the decision to suspend the presentation of traditional, live, professional performances,discuss the state of the arts, and answer audience questions.