Through a partnership with Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia, George Mason University's Science and Technology Campus is home to the Hylton Performing Arts Center, a spectcular venue to experience both international and local performers.
As you approach the Hylton Performing Arts Center, the first thing you will notice is that the exterior of the building is mostly covered in copper. Once inside, there are purple and blue carpets, ivory columns, and more copper, this time on the walls of the Didlake Grand Foyer. Merchant Hall, the 1,200 seat European-inspired opera house is to the left. There where one will find a dramatic Chinese red-colored semi-oval shaped hall with purple and blue accents and large copper ceiling installations that look like rays extending from one side of the hall to the other. There is no copper in the 300-seat Gregory Family Theater, however. It is a simple "black box"-style venue designed for smaller and more intimate productions.
Hylton Performing Arts Center opened in May of 2010, three years after groundbreaking and a decade after its original conception. The nearly 100,000 square-foot complex located on Mason's Science and Technology Campus was designed to bring a first-class performing arts venue to Prince WiIliam County through a unique partnership between the university, Virginia governmental units and the private sector. Since its opening, the Hylton has been host to thousands of performances featuring national, international, and local artists.
The Center was the product of a unique multi-participant partnership of Prince William County, the City of Manassas, George Mason University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and private donors. The most visible of the latter was the Cecil D. and Irene V. Hylton Foundation of Dale City, Virginia. Hylton, a land developer, and home builder who built most of the homes in Woodbridge and Dale City, Virginia during the second half of the twentieth century, was a prolific philanthropist in Prince William County. To Hylton, “the arts [were] very important to the quality of life throughout the Prince William Community, and we [were] very proud to take part in this special project". For his generosity and his dedication to improving the lives of county residents, officials decided to name the building after his family.
Prince William County, Manassas and George Mason had a history of partnerships long before the Hylton Performing Arts Center was constructed. In 1988, Prince William County Supervisor, Kathleen Seefeldt, reached out with an affirmative reply to an earlier inquiry by Mason President, George W. Johnson regarding the possibility of a partnership with the county. He suggested a George Mason campus associated with the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College. These were the initial moves that began the planning for the current Science and Technology Campus. Mason, Prince William County, and the City of Manassas teamed up to create the Freedom Aquatic Center on that campus in 1999. Seefeldt was heavily with securing the campus in Manassas and the Freedom Center Project. She was the Co-Chair of the committee to create the Hylton Performing Arts Center several years afterward.
The Hylton Center has been a destination venue for quality performing arts since 2010. It brings nationally and internationally known acts to Prince William County each year. It also serves local adult and youth performing arts groups as a site for recitals and performances, and the center collaborates with local schools to provide educational programing for school groups.
In 2019 the Hylton Center opened its newly completed Education and Rehearsal Wing, which added 17,000 square feet of classroom and rehearsal space for artists and educators.