The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is a multi-purpose cultural space in the southeast community of Newport News, VA. The building is owned and operated by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Newport News.
The center houses several event spaces and large/small group gathering rooms available for event rental. The core of the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is the Ella Fitzgerald Theater, a 276-seat venue named for the “first lady of song.” Other event spaces in the building include the Anderson Johnson Gallery, the Newport News Community Gallery, the L. Marian Poe Meeting Room, the banquet room, and the Charles C. Allen Execute Board Room.
While the building primarily functions as an event venue, several exhibits are open during normal business hours. Our permanent exhibit, the Anderson Johnson Gallery, provides a vignette into the life of a legendary folk artist whose work had an impact on the residents of Newport News. The Newport News Community Gallery is a rotating exhibit, featuring various local and national visual artists.
The facility also holds instructional spaces on the third-floor, including the Thaddeus Hayes Dance Studio, an art studio, a music room, and other classroom studio spaces. These spaces hold various programs dedicated to continuing arts education in our community.
The Active Lifestyles Program meets at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center on the third floor on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays from 10:30 am – 3 pm. The program is geared to those 50 and over; while providing opportunities for active living. Participants can enjoy arts and craft projects, cards, table games, Bingo, and special workshops. Guest presenters provide information relative to current topics, health fairs, and screenings.