A major expansion is planned for Red Bank’s historic Count Basie Theatre.
Opened as the Carlton Theatre in 1926 and renamed in 1984 to honor jazz great and Red Bank native William “Count” Basie, theatre management unveiled yesterday a $20 million vision to bring the facility “into the 21st century,” according to a release.
“Through the years, the Count Basie Theatre has acquired land to both the east and west of the venue,” said Tom Widener, chairman of the theatre’s board of directors and trustees. “We are now able to move toward our longtime vision of an entire city block dedicated to the performing arts, incorporating the historic theatre and developing a creative campus that serves not only Red Bank, but our region as a whole.”
According to a theatre release, plans include a new, glass-walled lobby; a modern upgrade for the theatre’s backstage area; a second, multi-use venue for up and coming artists; and new space for area arts nonprofits, partner programs, and the theatre’s ever-growing Performing Arts Academy.
Fundraising for the project is underway, with several major donations, including a $1 million gift, already committed.
“This will be a conservative project – we won’t spend money until it has been raised,” said Adam Philipson, Count Basie Theatre President and CEO. “That said, we’re optimistic that we can raise the money and have shovels in the ground within three to four years.”