The Count Basie Center for the Arts, doing what they can to survive
One of the jewels that New Jersey has to offer is The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. I live in close proximity and I've had the honor and pleasure to host and attend many events at the storied theater.
I‘ve hosted the many Hope Concerts that musician and friend Bobby Bandiera has held to help many New Jersey charities and have included such New Jersey talent as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds and so many others. I have hosted award shows, other concerts with top name artists also performing including, Tony Bennett, Smoky Robinson and Ringo Starr to name a few. I know the crew, security staff; bartenders and the management and I always enjoy walking into that theater. It has a great vibe, a good feeling.
The Count Basie is a big piece of New Jersey history; as a matter of fact its part of our national history as the theater is listed in The National Register of Historic Places in America.
The theater opened in 1926 as The Carlton Theater and it was in 1984 after Count Basie, who was from Red Bank, performed there in 1983, and passed away shortly after, that the theater was renamed The Count Basie Theatre, now The Count Basie Center for the Arts.
As we all are experiencing some tough times during this virus the Count Basie is in deep financial distress trying to survive in a time where indoor entertainment is not permitted or very limited. The Basie had some exciting plans that were announced in the fall of 2017 and they received some major donations from several philanthropists who believe in the Count Basie's mission of keeping the arts alive and also providing educational programs to the community.
It including a big expansion of the theater to include new back stage, a new pavilion for teaching and a smaller theater called The Vogel which holds about half of the 1500 seats that the main theater has.
While the Basie was getting those donations they were also counting on the revenue from a packed awesome schedule in 2020 that included some big name artists and shows that would provide sure sell outs and needed ticket revenue all of which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The people at the Basie have tried some unique substitutions to fill the void and have done a good job with a few events but its falling way short of what a jammed-packed, star-filled schedule would have provided.
I can’t fathom seeing the Count Basie closing. I know the staff at the theatre are working hard in doing whatever they can to not make that happen. I ask you if you’re a fan of the arts to support The Basie’s programs and hope for the best that this iconic theater will continue to light its marquee.