RED BANK, NJ - With construction underway on its celebrated, $26 million expansion, officials Monday night at the Count Basie Theatre – the top-selling nonprofit performing arts center in New Jersey and one of the top such venues in the U.S. and world – announced that a new name, the Count Basie Center for the Arts, will now represent all the organization stands for.
“For 34 years, the ‘Count Basie Theatre’ name has been synonymous with the region’s very best in arts and entertainment,” said Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts. “Today, we raise the Basie name to represent all that this regional, center for the arts stands for: our nonprofit mission of arts and education, our work in schools and the community, and all of the excellence and excitement that comes from that. Today, we are the Count Basie Center for the Arts.”
The elevation of Basie’s name preserves the building’s legacy -- and that of William James “Count” Basie, the Red Bank native whose career in jazz crisscrossed the world and put him in front of millions, including command performances for Queen Elizabeth II and President John F. Kennedy. Basie never forgot his roots, returning here in 1983 to perform a benefit concert purposed to build an education center at the A.M.E. Zion Church in Shrewsbury. Basie would pass away several months later in April 1984, with the theater being named in his honor later that year.
“The ‘Kid from Red Bank’ was more than just a musician,” Philipson told an audience gathered for Monday night’s unveil. “He was a symbol of creativity and talent, born in our town and famous for his many contributions to music and culture. Tonight, we embrace his legacy into a name that better suits us as an organization with a mission to entertain, educate and inspire.”
“With our groundbreaking last fall, we began our expansion on the west end of our building,” said Tom Widener, Chairman, Count Basie Center Board of Trustees. “Building a creative campus in the heart of Red Bank, with multiple buildings and continuous activity, has long been a dream of our board. It is exciting to see this dream begin to materialize.”
A NEW ERA, A NEW LOGO
With the name change comes the Basie’s first new logo in decades. Called “Energy,” the logo was created by Basie Creative Director Andrew Musser, who worked with Basie board member and seasoned marketing executive Bob Chandler to convene focus groups and work with organization leaders and personnel to create the new mark.
The logo colors represent the organization’s color palate, meant to mimic the gold, blue and darker tones present upon entering the historic theater.
“’ENERGY’ represents the movement of our organization from the four walls of a performance hall to the greater point of a center,” Musser says. “And within that center, performances, arts education, and a diversity of artforms synergize and foster a creative community.”
THE BASIE EXPANSION
The Basie’s $26 million expansion is underway on the west end of the building, which will house the previously-announced Jay and Linda Grunin Arts and Education Building, as well as the Basie’s as-yet-unnamed second performance space. Construction on the east end project, which will create an expanded lobby, new concessions and restroom facilities, a new Basie members lounge, the Stillwell-Larkin Pavilion and a spacious outdoor plaza, will follow.