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Arts Alive! Puts the Cultural Spotlight on the Suburbs

When you live near a metropolis, any talk of the arts has you thinking about the city. It’s where the best museums, galleries, stages and auditoriums tend to be. The suburbs, and especially rural areas are easily dismissed.

You shouldn’t do that this weekend, when one of the area’s best gatherings of performers, dancers, painters and many others takes place. It happens out in Manassas, over 30 miles west of D.C. The event is Arts Alive!, Prince William County’s annual showcase of the art and culture they have to offer.

Arts Alive! is an all-day affair, running Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. It takes places at the Hylton Center, the county’s gleaming new performance arts center, a building that rivals anything the city of Washington has to offer.

The Hylton Center opened its doors in 2010, as the most state-of-the-art venue in the area. It’s located on George Mason University’s Prince William Campus, just off of Prince William Parkway. At 85,000 square feet, the Hylton Center is a sight to see, rising high up over the rolling hills of Bull Run. The glass and copper exterior is more than nine stories tall, and inside are several different performance spaces. There is the 1,100 seat Merchant Hall, a classical style opera house, and the 200 seat Gregory Family Theater for smaller shows.

At Arts Alive! both stages, as well as the center’s large gallery, foyer and parking lots, will be put to use. Arts Alive! literally takes over. It’s the biggest event put on by the Prince William Council for Arts, and activities throughout the day run the spectrum from theater to dance to music to painting.

On display are 24 performances on four stages during the day: the two main Hylton spaces, a stage set up in Hylton’s Buchanan Partners Art Gallery as well as Showmobile, their mobile stage. At Merchant Hall, the day kicks off with a show by the Northern Virginia Youth Ballet. Following that with be performances from three different orchestras, including the Manassas Symphony Orchestra and the Youth Orchestras of Prince William County. The end of the day on the main stage culminates with an awards presentation by the Council and then a show by the United States Air Force Band.

The Gregory Family Theater will see mostly chorale performances, including one by Manassas Chorale, and finishes will the Capital Jazz band. The Buchanan Partners Arts Gallery has a poetry open mic, as well as several guitar choirs. Out at Showmobile, you’ll have a chance to catch some cloggers in action.

But by no means are these performances the only things to see and do at Arts Alive!

Artists from guilds around the area will have their works on display and for sale. The pieces run the gamut from photography to painting to quilting.

There will also be a number of interactive activities going on throughout the Hylton Center. From parading belly dancers to painting demonstrations to classes for kids on both storyboarding and poetry, there’s a plethora of things to do. Oh, and there may be a mime or two making their rounds, so keep your eyes open. Pop up shops will also be set up, for local artisans to sell jewelry and crafts.

And the best part of Arts Alive! is that is completely free to attend. Anyone and everyone is invited to see what kind of arts the suburbs can put on, and show the big city what they can do.


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