Count Basie Center for the Arts unveils The Vogel
New, state-of-the-art performance venue opens in October with social distancing and safety measures in place; performance announcements kicking off shortly
(SEPT. 29 | RED BANK) The Count Basie Center for the Arts today unveiled its long-awaited second performance venue: The Vogel.
With Governor Murphy’s decree that indoor venues may open to limited capacities – and summer’s worth of experience hosting safe and socially distanced concert events for more than 30,000 patrons offsite – the Basie Center announced The Vogel would begin hosting performances in mid-October. The opening allows the beleaguered Basie an opportunity to create revenue as it crawls from the hardships of a 7-month closure due to the pandemic.
“The Vogel represents four years of imagining how a new performance space could complement our historic theater,” said Adam Philipson, President / CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts.
The Vogel is named for area philanthropists Anne and Sheldon Vogel, in recognition of their support of the Count Basie Center for the Arts. Mr. Vogel’s career with Atlantic Records is the stuff of music business legend; hired by Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun himself, Mr. Vogel traveled the world and oversaw finances as the storied label signed everyone from Aretha Franklin to Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills and Nash, YES, Manhattan Transfer and others.
Originally set to open last June, the pandemic instead forced the Basie to take its programming outside, with drive-in and outdoor supper club performances at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.
“We spent our summer producing safe, socially-distanced concert events at Monmouth Park, which provided invaluable experience on how to approach live events properly,” Philipson said. “We have a set of procedures in place, and we know that when patrons feel safe, they’ll attend live performances. That said, we’ll be hosting audiences of 150 or so patrons at The Vogel beginning in mid-October.”
The other realities, Philipson stressed, are the Basie’s need to create revenue as well as help to make people feel safe to come back to indoor entertainment venues as they struggle to reopen.
“Though our summer events were successful, they represent just a fraction of our financial reality,” Philipson said. “We need to generate income to stay afloat, and we need to fulfill our mission to ‘Inspire, Educate and Entertain.’ Our Academy of the Arts has remained active, and now, it’s time for one of our stages to return to life.”
A nearly 20,000 sq. ft. performance space, The Vogel is part of the Basie’s storied expansion, completed earlier this year but unseen by the general public until today.
The balconied, two-level performance space will debut with strict social distancing measures in place:
- Initial shows will be seated, with tables sold in “Table For Two,” “Table For Four” and “Table For Six” configurations only.
- Tables will be positioned 6’ apart, with the front row of tables 12’ from the performers.
- Only 150 seats will be available for performances at this time.
- Drinks and concessions will be sold tableside; i.e.: no lining up at bars.
- Patrons must wear masks at all times while inside The Vogel, with exception to eating or drinking.
- Patrons will be expected to abide by social distancing norms while attending events at The Vogel.
- Temperatures will be taken at the door. Patrons with a body temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to enter. A refund will be issued.
- Fans must remain seated at their purchased table.
- For nights with two shows, entry for the second show will begin once the previous crowd is cleared and the venue is cleaned / sanitized.
- Restrooms will be limited to two (2) patrons at a time.
- Tables will not be permitted to be split and resold. Patrons holding resold tickets will be denied entry and refunds will not be offered.
- Events at The Vogel will utilize Ticketmaster’s touch-less, mobile entry system. No paper tickets will be accepted.
- Patrons will be required to remain seated, unless getting up to leave or use restrooms.
- Venue security will enforce ground rules, which will follow current CDC and State of New Jersey guidelines for indoor events.
The Basie Center will be working with Hackensack Meridian Health’s Reopening America Assist Program, which helps business owners and schools navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and create a safe environment for employees and customers.
“Hackensack Meridian Health is very excited to partner with the historic Count Basie Center as they reopen by implementing best practices and safety protocols, which will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all of the patrons, actors and staff that visit this incredible venue,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “This partnership is yet another success of our ‘Reopen America Program’ to assist our local economies as New Jersey begins to reopen and we hope to see you at the Basie Center soon!”
Though limited to seated, socially distanced events for the immediate future, The Vogel was built to accommodate both standing and seated audiences, with the goal of hosting everything from cabaret-style jazz performances to up-and-coming artists and comedians.
The Vogel will also host performances from Basie Center Academy students and students at the Basie’s Monmouth Conservatory of Music. Post-COVID, The Vogel can accommodate up to 800 persons standing.
The Vogel’s first performances will be announced shortly.