The Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas officially opened its Education and Rehearsal Wing with a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday evening.
The wing includes two rehearsal halls, six practice rooms, two classrooms, and two additional lobby spaces. Construction began in late 2016, but the project ran about a year behind schedule as fund-raising proved more difficult than expected. The wing cost about $13.5 million, with about $6 million coming from state funding and $7.5 million from private donations.
The Hylton opened 10 years ago as a partnership among George Mason University, which operates the venue, the city of Manassas, and Prince William County.
“This wing makes the Hylton Center complete and transforms us from a place where great art happens to a place where great art is created,” said Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Center and dean of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“Education is at the heart of who we are as a performing arts center and as a university,” Davis told several hundred attendees at the ribbon-cutting. “Even without adequate or dedicated facilities to do so before tonight, we’ve been able to achieve a lot in the education realm over the past 10 years. Now we stand on the threshold of the education initiative being fully launched, no longer restricted by limited space or calendars.”
The wing features one rehearsal hall with the floor size of the Hylton’s main Merchant Hall stage and another that matches the footprint of the Gregory Family Theater, which will enable arts groups to stage full-scale rehearsals or performances. The spaces have flexible seating, advanced acoustic treatments, and sprung dance floors.
“In this new wing, we will educate, of course,” Davis said, “as well as rehearse, perform and collaborate. We look forward to filling these spaces with artistic energy, synergy and creativity.”
Bishop Lyle Dukes, chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, praised the expansion and the relationship between the Hylton and the local business community.
“The chamber of commerce has benefited greatly from the Hylton Performing Arts Center being in our backyard,” Dukes said. “And we have been inspired by the way our chamber members have used the Hylton Center in their own businesses.”