George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

New Education and Rehearsal Wing will extend Hylton Center’s community reach

September 16, 2016   /   by Jamie Rogers

Rick Davis, dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts, welcomes guests at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hylton Performing Arts Center Education and Rehearsal Wing on the Science and Technology Campus, Prince William County. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Work is officially underway on an $8.5 million addition to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the 14,000-square-foot Education and Rehearsal Wing was held on Thursday and attended by some 200 guests. The addition will be built next to the Gregory Family Theater and will be accessible from the Didlake Grand Foyer.

The new wing is expected to open in 2018 and will feature 10 additional rooms for instruction, practice and ensembles; two of the additional spaces are rehearsal halls.

The stage in the larger rehearsal space is the same size of that in Merchant Hall, the Hylton’s main performance space. The second hall features the same size stage as the smaller Gregory Family Theater, said David Baylor, the general manager of the Hylton Center.

Both spaces will be acoustically designed to accommodate professional recordings, he added.

The smaller rehearsal space will be named the Ballard-Postma Studio in recognition of a gift from Hans and Mary Postma of Haymarket, Va. Ballard is Mary Postma’s family name.

The Hylton Center is already a popular place for arts groups and the extra space will allow the center to offer more educational programming for the community, Baylor said.

The wing will be used by regional arts organizations, George Mason students, and Prince William County and city of Manassas schools, as well as the business community.

A separate rear entrance for students, artists and parents is a highlight of the new wing, Hylton staff said, because it allows multiple events at the center to happen at once.

“This much-needed new space will allow creativity and collaboration to flourish at the Hylton Center,” said Rick Davis, the center’s executive director and dean of Mason’s 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 project is funded in part by $6 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which was secured with the continued support of retired Virginia Sen. Charles Colgan.

An additional $2.5 million gift from the Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation, along with the Postmas’ gift and other private donations to be sought over the next two years, will complete the funding for the wing, including adding state-of-the-art equipment.

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