Count Basie Theatre breaks ground on historic $23 million expansion

Nonprofit performing arts center also announces $2 million gift to create the
Jay and Linda Grunin Arts and Education Building

(RED BANK – SEPT. 20, 2017) The Count Basie Theatre today broke ground on a historic $23 million expansion, a project which will see the facility nearly double in size and become one of the region’s largest centers for the performing arts

Steven Van Zandt speaking to groundbreaking attendees. Photo: Mark Sullivan

The ceremony also served to announce a $2 million gift from the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and the creation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Arts and Education Building, which will house studios, classrooms and administrative offices for the Basie’s growing arts education programs, as well as a second performance venue.

“We are excited to play our part in a project that is sure to make a tremendous impact on the cultural and educational landscape of the Jersey Shore,” said Jay Grunin, Co-Founder of the Jay And Linda Grunin Foundation. “The alignment of the Basie’s mission and our Foundation’s mission make this a perfect marriage and one that we hope to continue to build upon for many years to come.”

Top donors to the Basie’s campaign pitch shovels into dirt to officially mark the campaign’s groundbreaking. Photo: Mark Sullivan .

In addition to a new venue and program and administrative spaces, the Grunin building will also become an ideal location for educational meetings and conferences. A rooftop lounge, named the “Rock n’ Rohl Rooftop Lounge” after campaign donors Mark and Denise Rohl, will provide a stylish, modern gathering space for concertgoers, private parties and other events.

“We are delighted to break ground today on the expansion and updating of the historic Count Basie Theatre,” said Tom Widener, Chairman, Count Basie Theatre Board of Trustees. “It is a momentous day, and one that could not have happened without the support of many people and organizations. Particular thanks are due to the Grunin Foundation and my fellow board member Jeremy Grunin, plus Citi, the Asbury Park Press, Nancy Mulheren, Carol Stillwell, Maryann Larkin, Maggie Riker, Mark and Karey Hogan, the Rohl’s and many others in making significant gifts to this campaign.”

The Basie expansion, announced in October 2015, earned the endorsement of E-Street Band guitarist “Little” Steven Van Zandt and his wife Maureen, who joined the project as honorary campaign co-chairs. Longtime advocates for the arts, the Van Zandts also sit on the Basie’s Board of Trustees.

“To see this groundbreaking day come to fruition so quickly is a wonderful testament to the dedication and generosity of all involved, especially the great people at Citi,” said Maureen Van Zandt. “We’re so honored to help kick things off. What an exciting day for the arts community.”

The expansion will add modern, barrier-free amenities and improvements throughout the Basie campus. On the eastern end of the facility, customers will enjoy an expanded lobby, areas for concessions and a spacious, outdoor performing arts plaza. New air conditioning and heating systems will also be installed, along with an elevator and expanded restroom facilities.

Hundreds gathered to witness history as the nonprofit Basie officially broke ground on its historic $23 million expansion. Photo: Mark Sullivan

Meanwhile, artists performing at the Basie will enjoy a modernized backstage area and state-of-the art production technologies, allowing the 90-year old theater to attract bigger productions than ever before.

“It’s very gratifying to have arrived at this day,” said Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “This is a day that the entire staff and board have relentlessly been working towards. What was once our dream is now fast becoming our reality.”

Philipson added that bids for the project will be announced shortly. Basie Renovation and Restoration co-chairs Steven Schultz and Stephen Cutler have overseen NK Architects of Morristown’s design of the project, along with Ben Harvey Construction of Long Branch and M. Silberman Interior Design of Shrewsbury.

“The Basie is truly touched by the support and generosity of our donors who believe in our vision and who have invested in our project to date,” said Maria Sorensen, Vice President of Development, Count Basie Theatre. “It is clear that our community cherishes the arts and the Basie’s economic impact to the region. Moving forward, we look forward to raising the additional funds needed to reach our $23 million goal.”



Here’s how the Basie of the future will look:

The new, spacious Count Basie Theatre lobby will incorporate the theater’s historic design and add modern amenities like a glass-lined lobby wall, an elevator to the second floor and expanded, barrier-free concessions and restroom facilities. (Courtesy NK Architects and M. Silberstein Design)
Just outside the lobby will be an expanded courtyard, lit by the warmth of the lobby’s glass wall and flanked by the Stillwell Larkin Pavilion (photo right), which will also house the Basie’s new donor lounge. (Courtesy NK Architects and M. Silberstein Design)
The Rock n’ Rohl Rooftop Lounge, made possible by a generous gift from Mark and Denise Rohl, will sit atop the Jay and Linda Grunin Education Building and provide a stylish, pre- and post-show spot and space for corporate gatherings or other get-togethers. (Courtesy NK Architects and M. Silberstein Design)
Jay and Linda Grunin Arts and Education Building
On the west side of the campus, the Jay and Linda Grunin Arts and Education Building will house modern, state-of-the-art classrooms and rehearsal spaces, the Basie’s expanding arts education program and a second performance venue. (Courtesy NK Architects and M. Silberstein Design)
East Side
On the east side of the Basie campus, the street-facing Stillwell Larkin Pavilion will welcome patrons into the Basie’s expanded lobby and outdoor arts plaza. (Courtesy NK Architects and M. Silberstein Design)