University Receives Award from Arts Council of Fairfax County

Posted: June 14, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: June 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

The Center for the Arts at the Fairfax Campus presents the Great Performances at Mason series each year. Creative Services photo

For its dedication and commitment to the arts, Mason received the 2010 Jinx Hazel Arts Citizen of the Year Award from the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

The award was presented to Mason President Alan Merten and his wife, Sally, and former Mason President George Johnson and his wife, Joanne, at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce 2010 Chairman’s Luncheon on Tuesday, June 15.

The Jinx Hazel Award is named for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s former chairwoman of the board of directors and Virginia Commission for the Arts member. She died in 1995.

Since its inception in 1997, the award has been presented annually to an individual or group that shares Hazel’s dedication to the arts, and whose vision and commitment of time and energy has played a significant role in Fairfax County’s advancement of the arts.

“It is amazing how the arts at Mason have become a major influence in the region, both academically and artistically,” says Douglas Brammer, chairman of the Arts Council of Fairfax County Board of Directors.

“[Mason’s] academic programs and performing arts centers allow the university to connect with the community and excel in creativity, innovation and leadership.”

First championed by the Johnsons, the arts at Mason developed a greater presence on campus and within the community in the 1980s.

Nurturing this commitment to the arts, the Mertens have remained dedicated to enriching the cultural life of the Mason community and establishing Mason as an arts leader in the region. During Merten’s presidency, the arts at Mason have continued to undergo significant growth in stature, enrollment and infrastructure.

“As a university that is deeply committed to the arts and educating our students about the significance the arts have in all our lives, we are honored to receive the Jinx Hazel Arts Citizen of the Year Award,” says Sally Merten.

“This award is a testament to Mrs. Hazel’s dedication to the arts and the continued growth of the arts at Mason in providing the best possible education to its students and strengthening its relationships with both the professional and local community.”

The Hylton Performing Arts Center at the Prince William Campus is Mason's newest contribution to the region's arts scene. Creative Services photo

Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), formed in 2001, is home to the Schools of Art, Dance and Music; the Department of Theater; and the Computer Game Design, Arts Management, and Film and Video Studies programs. CVPA prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs.

The college continues to expand its facilities. The new Art and Design Building for the School of Art opened last fall, and a major addition to the Donald and Nancy de Laski Performing Arts Building for music and dance will be completed this fall. The new construction allows for growth in the music and art programs.

Adding to its traditional academic assets, CVPA and its faculty are responsible for several professional undertakings, including the Theater of the First Amendment, Mason’s professional theater group; the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra; and the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

Mason’s two performing arts centers, the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus and the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William Campus, represent fully formed professional facilities and infrastructure.

These venues welcome visitors from the community to enjoy local and international performing artists. In addition, some of the professional companies and organizations that have residences at Mason include the Virginia Opera, the Fairfax Symphony and the American Youth Philharmonic.

Several programs provide students an opportunity to interact with the professional arts world and the community. The Visual Voices lecture series welcomes visiting artists and designers to speak about their work, and the Potomac Arts Academy, a community outreach branch of CVPA, provides the surrounding community with quality arts instruction.

The college’s numerous “Friends” groups provide financial and volunteer support for CVPA programs and activities and demonstrate strong connections with the local community. This community support also makes it possible for CVPA to attract high-quality faculty and students and expand scholarship funds.

Founded in 1964, the Arts Council of Fairfax County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a dynamic and diverse local arts presence and participation.

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