Envisioned as a multi-purpose hub for the arts and a catalyst for community growth, the Hylton Performing Arts Center (Hylton) was always meant to be more than just a performing arts venue nestled into the heart of Innovation Park, Manassas.
With a mission to invigorate the region's cultural and economic pulse by offering diverse, high-quality performances, the leadership and staff at the Hylton seek to inspire, educate, and enrich the community.
The center stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between Prince William County, the City of Manassas, George Mason University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the community's philanthropic spirit. Yet when it opened its doors in 2010, budget constraints forced the center to sacrifice its much-needed program space.
Rick Davis, Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center and Dean of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, recounted the journey of bringing the center's expansion to life.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of the late Virginia state senator Chuck Colgan, the Jacquemin Family Foundation, and generous private donors, the center collected $16 million to complete its original design,” says Davis.
The new 17,000 square foot expansion integrates seamlessly with the existing structure, resulting in a sprawling 102,000 square foot complex that offers unique spaces for the community to explore, learn, and create. Davis believes the delayed construction allowed for the creation of an even better facility, with the new wing's two rehearsal halls enhancing the overall event space.
Completed in late 2019, the first performances in the expanded spaces in early 2020 were just the overture to a grand symphony. And like an unexpected intermission, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily hushed the center's activities.
Despite these unforeseen challenges, the dedicated Hylton team poured their efforts into nurturing the arts and supporting artists during this trying period. The new wing has become an essential asset for students and artists of all ages, where they learn, rehearse, and perfect their crafts under the guidance of George Mason University’s professors, lecturers, and professional artists.
Architecturally, the center's heart is its lobby—a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and people. Davis describes it as a "mixing bowl where individuals from all walks of life can commune." With no right angles, fluted pillars, and an unusual copper feature, the space is a gentle whirlwind, marrying the elegant with the earthy.
Business owners, community partners, and government leaders will gather at the center and the new Jacquemin Family Foundation room on Thursday for the inaugural PWCDED Make Your Mark Business Community Celebration. Co-sponsored by the Hylton Center and the Prince William County Industrial Development Authority, this event focuses on how the Prince William County business community has demonstrated the grit, passion, and commitment to become a sought-after destination for entrepreneurs, corporations, and talented business leaders.