The Hylton Performing Arts Center hosted a special two-day celebration with the Hylton Center 12and Anniversary gala April 29 and 30. As the first in-person anniversary gala since 2019, the event welcomed over 1,000 guests and supported Hylton Center’s mission to present diverse shows and programs of high quality and artistic excellence to inspire, educate and enrich the community.
The festivities began at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and included a tribute to this year’s winners, Lovey Hammel and Denise Mc Phail, for their leadership and many contributions to the Hylton Center and George Mason University. The evening kicked off at the Didlake Grand Foyer with an elegant cocktail reception featuring specialty cocktails provided by MurLarkey Distilled Spirits and a special dinner on the Merchant Hall stage, prepared by Susan Gage Caterers. The evening also included a live auction with travel packages, as well as a ‘Raise Your Paddle’ fundraiser in support of Hylton Center’s Veterans and Arts Initiative.
On Saturday, April 30, guests were treated to a Hylton Center IN ADDITION! performance by Tony Award-winning star of stage and screen Leslie Odom, Jr. Having a multi-faceted career in theatre, television, film and GRAMMY award-winning music, Odom, Jr. earned multiple nominations including Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics’ Choice Award, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and more.
In addition to his performance, Odom, Jr. gave area students the opportunity to join him in an open dialogue about his career path and the advice he has to offer for achieving his goals in the scenic arts. Students from Mason’s School of Theatre, Northern Virginia’s Creative and Performing Arts Center (CAPAC), as well as high schools from Colgan, Forest Park, Osbourn Park and Woodbridge in Prince William County participated with questions and conversations. After Odom, Jr.’s performance, an exclusive dessert reception for Gold+ level gala sponsors closed the evening.
The event raised a record-breaking amount of over $225,000, which will support performances and programs at the Hylton Center, as well as the Education initiative and Veterans and Arts Initiative. Ten percent of net proceeds will also fund the Hylton Center Donationensuring excellence today and for years to come.
During the event, Executive Director of Hylton Center and Dean of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Rick Davis shared, “Tonight we celebrate our unofficial motto ‘the arts create community’ and we’re here to recognize and thank the artists and community builders who deliver on that promise. The work done by Lovey Hammel and her family has paved the way for so many artists and art students to express their creative voices and spread their artistic wings here at Hylton Center.
He continued, “We also recognize the outstanding work of one of these artists and educators – Denise McPhail, co-founder and executive director of the Creative and Performing Arts Center. Through the performing arts and sciences, CAPAC educates, entertains, and encourages diverse youth, teens, and adults across Northern Virginia to ignite the curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills of STEAM as a formula to diversify and sustain workforces. of STEAM for lifelong success.
Hylton Center’s 12th Anniversary Gala was supported by numerous regional businesses and individual donors, including Presenting Sponsor Compton & Duling. Hylton Center IN ADDITION!the show was sponsored by Carol Merchant Kirby and Peter Kirby, NOTEC, and Buck and Julie Walters.
Event images by Melisa Pasero Photography.