Digging Deep to Break Ground for the Arts

Enthusiastic community support is making a long-held vision come true at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, on the Science and Technology Campus in Manassas.

More than 150 supporters of the arts gathered at the Hylton Center on September 15 for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Education and Rehearsal Wing, slated to open in 2018. This 14,000 square foot addition to an already-iconic building will allow the center to serve community arts partners, Mason students, and the regional community with expanded programs in new spaces. The wing was part of the original design for the building, which opened in 2010, but was left unbuilt at the time due to budget constraints.

“This much-needed new space will allow creativity and collaboration to flourish at the Hylton Center,” said Rick Davis, executive director of the center and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Our community has spoken. This beautiful wing will be filled with teaching, learning, and rehearsals on the day it opens.”

The new practice rooms and rehearsal spaces “will give us enough space to have real rehearsals for all our groups prior to their stage time,” said Claudia Morales, BIS ’07, MA ’13, executive director of Youth Orchestras of Prince William, which puts on three major youth performances at the center each year. “This will be huge for us! We can’t wait.”

Hylton Ctr Education and Rehearsal Wing interior

Significant funding for the Education and Rehearsal Wing is already in hand. The Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation has provided a $2.5 million gift, supplementing $6 million in public funds from the state of Virginia. And at Thursday evening’s event, Davis announced that supporters Hans and Mary Postma have pledged a major planned gift. One of the wing’s rehearsal spaces will be named the Ballard Postma Studio in recognition of the couple’s generosity.

Mary Postma has been deeply involved at the Hylton Center as a volunteer, organizer, and patron even since before its construction. “She has been instrumental in creating and sustaining the Hylton Center from the beginning,” said Davis.

Postma, who has elsewhere described herself as “just a normal, ordinary person who has a burning desire to contribute to the arts,” said at the event that “being involved with the Hylton Center has let me pursue my two greatest passions, the arts and children.”

“We’re only here for the blink of an eye,” she told the gathering. “So do important things with your time. Dig deep, follow your passion, and make a difference.”

RR/ September 20, 2016

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