Both the Count Basie Theatre and the Two River Theater Company were major beneficiaries of whopping state funding increases as part of an effort to “create parity” among arts organizations, according to today’s Star-Ledger.


The Basie’s fiscal year 2008 grant from the state Council on the Arts soared by 42 percent, to $223,325, up more than $94,000 from 2007, and the Two Rivers’ allotment doubled, to $139,477, from $69,183.

“We think it represents an acknowledgment by the council of the growth we’ve had over the past couple of years,” Two River managing director Guy Gsell told the Asbury Park Press. “We’re serving a wider geographic area, and have had an incredible period of growth.”

Also from the Press:

Count Basie Theatre CEO Numa C. Saisselin expressed delight over Tuesday’s proceedings.

“We’re thrilled,” said Saisselin. “We have the second-highest percentage increase in the entire state. It looks like — at least temporarily — state arts funding is on the upswing. It was a good year, and they (the Council) were in a position to show us some love.”

Other local groups sharing in the awards were the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation, which received $23,400 in general operating support, and the Monmouth County Arts Council Inc., $14,600 for building arts participation; $10,242 for a local arts staffing initiative; $209,318 local arts program.

The Basie’s award was the largest to a Monmouth County organization, according to the Press. Among the state’s large theaters, the grant to the Basie was exceeded only by the $1.46 million awarded to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the $385,463 that went to the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The Two River Theater also picked up $15,000 for special initiative in arts education.

Overall, the NJSCA doled out some $21.5 million yesterday, up 15 percent from last year, with more than 550 local arts organizations and programs sharing in the expanded pie.

Here’s the list and here’s a press release from the NJSCA.

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