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Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center

A historic building known as the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center can be found in the center of Newport News, Virginia. This building serves as a community educational center as well as a location for live performances and other events. Offering a variety of programs and events for people of all ages, the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is a distinctive and significant component of the city’s cultural landscape.

In Newport News, the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is named for two illustrious African American families. One of the first African American landowners in the city was the Downing family, which included William Downing. The Gross family, which included Dr. W. W. W. “Papa” Gross, was a prominent family in the community and a respected medical family. These families collectively had a significant impact on Newport News’ history, and the Cultural Arts Center carries on their legacy.

The former Walter Reed School and the nearby Downing-Gross House serve as the residences for the Cultural Arts Center. Built in 1931, the Walter Reed School educated African American students segregatedly until the late 1960s. The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center reopened in 2008 after the structure had been transformed into a cultural hub. Dr. W. W. W. Gross and his family lived in the Downing-Gross House, which was constructed in 1896 and is situated close to the school. In 2012, the house was renovated and made accessible to the public.

Currently, Newport News’ Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is a hub of activity. Concerts, plays, dance performances, art exhibitions, and educational programs are just a few of the events that the center hosts. The center also provides lessons and workshops in the performing, visual, and literary arts. All ages and skill levels are welcome to enroll in these classes, making the center a fantastic community resource.

The annual Jazz Legacy Foundation Gala is one of the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center’s most well-attended events. This celebration honors regional jazz musicians and Newport News’ long history of jazz music. Jazz musicians perform live at the gala, and there is also a silent auction and a VIP reception. The Jazz Legacy Foundation, which supports community jazz education initiatives and awards scholarships to aspiring musicians, will benefit from the event’s proceeds.

The largest children’s festival in the state, the Virginia Children’s Festival, is also held at the center. The festival offers a variety of kid-friendly entertainment options, such as interactive exhibits, live performances, and DIY art projects. The festival aims to encourage children’s literacy, creativity, and physical activity.

The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center additionally hosts a number of concerts throughout the year in addition to these events. Local and national musicians from a variety of musical genres, such as jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, and others, perform at these concerts. Theatrical performances at the center include plays, musicals, and dance performances.

Local and regional artists’ work is showcased in the center’s art exhibitions. Visitors have the chance to experience a variety of art styles and techniques as these exhibits change throughout the year. The center also offers art workshops and classes, giving people of all ages the chance to develop new skills and express their creativity.

The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is a multipurpose space that hosts events and live performances. Through its educational programs, the center is dedicated to advancing the arts and culture in the neighborhood. People of all ages and skill levels can learn new skills and explore their creativity through the center’s classes and workshops. Through its outreach initiatives, the center also makes the arts more widely available by bringing them into Newport News’s public schools and community centers.

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