The Count Basie Center for the Arts, the not-for-profit performing arts center with a mission to “Inspire, Educate and Entertain,” announced today that Jeremy Grunin has accepted the role of Chairman of its Board of Trustees.
“Giving Tuesday,” founded in 2012 by New York City’s 92nd St. YMCA and the United Nations Foundation, was originally a “response to commercialism and consumerism” during the holiday season. It has since turned into an international day of giving.
Tomorrow, November 29, the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre will join forces with radio station 94.3 The Point and The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, to raise funds for both the theatre’s sensory-friendly programming, and for POAC Autism Services.
“Giving Tuesday” at the Basie will kick-off at 5:30 a.m., with a day-long broadcast from 94.3 The Point / WJLK-FM Radio. Listeners will be invited to drop by and give donations in person, or to make donations via theBASIE.org.
The organizations will also use the day-long effort and radio broadcast to raise funds for POAC Autism Services of Brick. Two dollars from every Count Basie Theatre ticket sold on November 29 will be donated to the group, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and adults with autism achieve their fullest potential by providing quality education, support and recreation at no cost to participants.
“Reaching all audiences with the highest level of the performing arts is part of our not for profit mission,” said Adam Philipson, CEO and President of the historic Count Basie Theatre. “We strive to be inclusive and create barrier-free experiences and these shows will support our guests and families with special needs including autism spectrum disorder.”
“We are looking forward to partnering with the Count Basie Theatre in bringing the Jersey Shore together to support this important cause,” said Steve Ardolina, Regional Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Group New Jersey, which owns WJLK.
In addition, the Jersey Shore-based Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, which uses philanthropy to increase citizen activity and economic development opportunities through the arts, healthcare and education, has generously agreed to match all donations up to $25,000.
“The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is proud to be able to work with a great non-profit partner like the Count Basie Theatre,” said executive director and Basie board member Jeremy Grunin. “The ability to support POAC Autism Services in their mission coupled with further showing the power of the arts through the Basie was too powerful an endeavor to ignore.”
Earlier this year, the Basie team worked with POAC to train staff in advance of the theatre’s first-ever sensory-friendly mainstage performance.
“POAC is so thrilled to be involved with Count Basie Theater’s sensory-friendly programming and their fundraising efforts on Giving Tuesday,” said Simone Tellini, Director of Program Development at POAC. “Children and adults on the autism (ASD) spectrum often have sensory issues that make it difficult to participate in and enjoy community-based activities, especially those involving the arts. These activities are essential, especially for children, and vital to their growth in so many ways.
“Last February,” Tellini continued, “the Basie provided a wonderful show that, for many children, was their first experience with live theater. The management and staff went above and beyond to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted. We applaud the Count Basie’s commitment to our families and look forward to future events and programs.”
The live “Giving Tuesday” broadcast will feature performances from students of the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy’s Jazz Arts Project, Rockit! and Voices vocal ensemble. In addition, cast members from the Tony Award winning ONCE, playing that evening on the Basie stage, will go on air to perform the musical’s signature hit, “Falling Slowly.”
Middletown’s own local guy made good, musician-actor-producer-activist Steven Van Zandt, is pictured outside the Count Basie Theatre in a 2008 file photo. Van Zandt, his wife Maureen and five other area residents were named as the newest members of the Basie’s boards of trustees and directors. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Entertainers Maureen and Steven Van Zandt are among seven area residents who have been elected as the newest members of the boards of trustees and directors for the Count Basie Theatre. The couple, who were previously named recipients of the Basie’s inaugural Vanguard Awards, join a roster of new board members that also includes Kainos Capital partner Sarah Bradley, marketing professional Robert Chandler, Grunin Foundation director Jeremy Grunin, River Capital Group chairman Mario Monello, and Meadowbrook Industries owner-president Peter T. Roselle.
For Steven, it’s the latest manifestation of a long association with the historic venue, where he performed (back in its days as the Carlton Theatre) a now-legendary 1977 concert in which he subbed for an ailing Southside Johnny as frontman of the Asbury Jukes, the Stone Pony house band that he co-founded in the early days of that Shore circuit landmark.
The longtime Springsteen lieutenant, bandleader, songwriter, actor (The Sopranos, Lillyhammer), human rights activist, radio personality and producer — whose latest project is a well-received new album from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love — teamed with the Boss and fellow E Streeters for a 2008 benefit show at the Basie, and joined Maureen in helping coordinate a recent performance by Rockit for Kids, the Basie’s in-house “school of rock program,” in conjunction with the 2014 Vanguard Awards ceremony.