The Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center is a multi-purpose cultural space in the Southeast community of Newport News, VA. Originally built as the Walter Reed School, the historic building has been restored and open to the public since October 2008. The building is owned and operated by the City of Newport News, Parks, Recreation and Tourism department.

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 Executive Board Room. 

OUR Legacy

Newport News, Virginia has a rich cultural history. Just a few of the musicians, writers, actors and artists to call Newport News home include William Styron, Pearl Bailey and Pete Horne.  Newport News is also the birthplace of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald.  

Learn more about the cultural icons of Newport News.