Hylton Center Continues to Develop as a ‘Creative Commons’

| March 29, 2013 | 0 Comments | News

TAO: Phoenix Rising (Photo Credit - Columbia Artists Management Inc.)

The Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas opened its doors to the press on Thursday, unveiling a video of the artists who will perform there in its fourth season, 2013-2014.

Donors and founding benefactors like Prince William Health System (Novant Health), which is returning as a season sponsor for “Hylton Presents” and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), which is sponsoring Arts Alive! 2013 on April 13, were present, as well as George Mason University faculty and staff, local government officials and others.

Resident arts partners were also well represented, including the Manassas Ballet Theatre, which recently garnered international press for its original ballet memorial, “Colin.” Absent was Youth Orchestras of Prince William, which is currently in New York City, preparing to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City tonight, Friday, March 29.

During table talk at the luncheon, arts advocate and Gainesville resident Sue Farris explained how, in the past three years, her Heritage Hunt community has taken the Hylton Center to heart.

Rick Davis and Tom Reynolds announce the new season of programs at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. (Photo Credit: Cindy Brookshire)

“We’re 500 friends who like to square dance and have all kinds of fun raising money for the center, and then come to the performances here,” said Farris of neighborhood clubs like the Heritage Hunt Women’s Organization, the Heritage Hunt Little Theatre and the Heritage Hunt Performing Arts Center Council.

That kind of connection is why Executive Director Rick Davis is calling the center, located on Mason’s Prince William campus, a “creative commons”:

“Whether they are in the audience or on stage …when people have weddings, parties, social or political events, celebrations, both joyful and sorrowful here, this [center] is releasing the energies of the community and helping them find a collective expression,” explained Davis. “Seeing the delight in faces when it happens occurs on a weekly, almost daily basis.”

This year alone, 4,000 youth have come to the center during the school day to experience a Manassas Ballet performance and the chance to interact with the director and performers.

This summer, the Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation will make possible the return of conductor Lorin Maazel with two of his Castleton Festival at the Hylton performances. The first, June 30, highlights the best of Italian opera; the second, July 18, is “Mostly Mahler,” though Davis quipped it brings together “the four M’s: Maazel, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Manassas.” Plans are being made to partner with local eateries to provide a dining experience before the shows.

Members of the press attend a luncheon at the Hylton Center Thursday. (Credit: Cindy Brookshire)

Youth Discount – Half Price on all “Hylton Presents” Performances

Director of Artistic Programming, Tom Reynolds, shared the Hylton Center’s key price point to draw in families: a half-price discount for children and youth through grade 12 on all Hylton Presents performances.

The Hylton Presents performances include: Peter Nero (Sept. 21), Aquila Theatre: Fahrenheit 451 (Oct. 5), Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra (Oct. 19), Hungarian State Folk Ensemble (Nov. 16), Shanghai Ballet (Nov. 22), A Chanticleer Christmas (Dec. 1), Danu: Christmas in Ireland (Dec. 6), American Festival Pops Orchestra (Dec. 13), Vienna Boys Choir (Dec. 15), Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel (Feb. 9), Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel (Feb. 22), The Peking Acrobats (Feb. 26), The Acting Company: Hamlet (Mar. 2), Leahy (March 15-16), Moscow Festival Ballet: Swan Lake (Apr. 4) and Tao: Phoenix Rising – Taiko Drumming (Apr. 12-13).

The Hylton Family Series will bring Garry Krinsky’s Toying with Science (Oct. 12), The Cashore Marionettes (Nov. 23), Imago Theatre’s Frogs (Feb. 8 ) and the Pushcart Players’ A Cinderella Tale (March 23).

Resident Arts Partners performances include Manassas Ballet Theatre’s productions of “Dracula,” “The Nutcracker,” “’Walpurgis Night’ & More!” and “Sleeping Beauty”; Manassas Symphony Orchestra’s“Arts for Everyone,” Annual Family Concert: “Bedtime

Leahy (Photo Credit - Leahy Music)

Stories,” “Soundscapes” and “Romantic Masterworks”; Youth Orchestras of Prince William’s “A European Tour” and “A Night at the Opera”; four concerts by the Manassas Chorale, celebrating its 20th anniversary season; and fall and spring plays and a summer musical by Prince William Little Theatre.

At a time when many arts organizations are rethinking activities and structure due to the economy, the Hylton Center continues to strengthen its audience base and community presence.

“What drives an audience is when one of the critics makes the show a weekend pick. We’ve been astonishingly successful in penetrating such vehicles to promote our shows,” said Davis.

Still, when the center’s volunteer ushers and greeters ask, “Is this your first time at the Hylton Center?” the reply is often, “Yes.”

“Even though literally hundreds of thousands of people have been through these doors, there is still a large number of folks who haven’t been here yet,” acknowledged Davis. “That is both a challenge and an opportunity.”

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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