By Chris Rotolo |
RED BANK – The rumble and hum of construction equipment on site is an illustration of the $27 million renovation and expansion initiative reshaping the Count Basie Center for the Arts (CBCA).
The concrete foundation and skeletal framework of the facility’s forthcoming wing could potentially double the amount of square footage dedicated to performance spaces, educational centers and cultural offerings on the expanding campus.
The physical building is definitely changing at the Monmouth Street locale, and now, so has the name attached to its legendary theater.
On a crisp Oct. 26 morning, two black sheets atop the marquee were drawn back and duct tape on the lobby doors torn away, introducing the Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre at the Count Basie Center for the Arts (CBCA).
“This is a new partnership that further strengthens the connection between the impact of the arts and the health and well being we strive for in our lives,” Adam Phillipson, Count Basie President and CEO, said in an opening address to an audience of organizational executives, trustees, advisors and local and state political leaders, including U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) and state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11).
Phillipson described the relationship of CBCA and nearby Riverview Medical Center as a long-standing alliance between two strong and supportive neighbors. “And now, we are so pleased to formalize our association,” he said.
Bob Garrett was named co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) in 2016 and, during the unveiling, discussed the health network’s recent collaborative efforts with JFK Health in Edison, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Carrier Clinic. “You may be asking yourself, ‘How does this type of partnership fit into it?’ ” he said.
Garrett referenced studies that recognize the healing power of music and the way in which a patient’s favorite tunes can reduce the stress of a diagnosis, or even lessen the pain during a long road back toward recovery. “There’s such a big linkage between music and health and health care,” Garrett said.
“Patients have even shown to have better outcomes if they’re exposed to music on a regular basis and that’s particularly true for cancer patients and young patients,” Garrett said.
With Garrett at the helm, HMH has already explored this concept by forming a partnership with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra titled the NJSO Music and Wellness program, an initiative that promotes healing through music for patients, staff and caregivers by coordinating visits and performances inside HMH-operated academic medical centers, community hospitals, children’s hospitals and cancer centers around the state.
“Members of the Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center family have long known the Basie Center to be a wonderful neighbor,” said Tim Hogan, president, Care Transformation Services and Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are delighted to advance our relationship with the Basie as both of our organizations continue to experience a significant evolution.”
The construction already underway at the CBCA will include an expanded lobby with new concession and restroom areas, an outdoor arts plaza, a rooftop lounge, modernized backstage facilities and an education building.
The redevelopment plan also included a second performance space to the right of the box office that will be used as a smaller, general admission, standing room-only venue with a second-story balcony overlooking the stage.
“The Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre will hold a special place on our creative campus,” said Tom Widener, chairman of the Count Basie Center board of trustees. “Our historic theater is the centerpiece of the Basie Center and we are thrilled to have such an important statewide institution associated with it.”
This article was first published in the Nov. 1-7, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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