Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access

As a nonprofit organization, the Count Basie Center regularly assesses its offerings, seeking to assure that what it stands for – onstage and off – is in line with the needs of the community. As part of this assessment, the Basie Center commits itself to a detailed strategic plan every three years, meeting with community leaders, patrons, donors, board, staff and artists alike to solicit feedback and create what we feel is the best roadmap to grow forward and best serve our constituents.

Feedback received during our latest strategic planning sessions suggested the Basie Center could go further in its efforts to be a more welcoming and nurturing organization to communities of color and other community groups.

With the long held belief that the arts are an all-embracing, healing and universal force, the Basie Center formed its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and sought the services of Tomeka Lee, a principal at TriZen, LLC, a management consulting and leadership development company. Since June 2020, Ms. Lee has guided the Basie Center board, its leadership and employees through a series of seminars and training sessions to best understand bias and institutional racism, and to look within ourselves to recognize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Committee, consisting of employees, board and community members, examined the ways in which the Basie Center communicates and establishes outreach with leaders of other likeminded organizations and community groups.

These exercises have produced a number of important Count Basie Center programs and initiatives:

  1. The Count Basie Center’s “Community Conversations” program has hosted conversations between neighbors and law enforcement and guest lecturers like Dr. Cornel West and Who We Are protagonist / former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson, in an effort to facilitate a better understanding between thinkers, leaders and the persons who count on them most in the community.
  2. The Count Basie Center has initiated a policy to purposely create outreach and visibility so that its job openings, casting calls and other opportunities are clearly noted as being for everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, cultural heritage or background, body types and / or gender expressions.
  3. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement (below) to guide not only internal practices, but act as a pledge to our community about our commitment to transparency and inclusion.
  4. The creation of an endowment campaign, with a significant focus on raising funds to create scholarships so that students may take advantage of Basie Center Academy programs, regardless of their economic background.
  5. Regular training sessions for Basie Center employees centered on equity, allyship, institutional racism, microaggressions and social consciousness.

The framework of our current strategic plan aims to permanently embed a sense of inclusion and equity in everything the Basie Center does, aligning our efforts to Inspire, Educate and Entertain to the ideals shared throughout our Values Statement, community programming and outreach.

In line with the Basie Center’s 100thanniversary in 2026, the community can expect more conversations, programming and more action to purposely make this organization, its campus and facilities more inviting and accessible to all.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The Count Basie Center’s commitment to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) performing arts organization is at the core of our mission to Inspire, Educate and Entertain.

As part of that commitment, the Count Basie Center has established a DEI Task Force comprised of board, staff, and community members. Our purpose is to intentionally embrace and amplify positive change toward diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in every area of our organization, including programming, education, staffing, board recruitment, and community engagement.

The Count Basie Center is determined to provide an inclusive environment in which all who walk through our doors can do so as their most authentic selves. We firmly believe that everyone of all backgrounds and identities deserves access to experience the enrichment that the arts contribute to a full life.


Land Acknowledgement

The Count Basie Center for the Arts recognizes and honors that we stand today on the land once known as “Lenapehoking,” the traditional territory of the Algonquin-speaking Lenni-Lenape Native Americans. Acknowledging this history is part of the Basie Center’s dedication to ensuring that equity, diversity and inclusion are paramount to the organization’s mission and programming.


Count Basie Center Programming Statement

From time to time, our stages and screens may showcase artists or films whose opinions, routines or subject matter may be offensive to some patrons.  The views and actions expressed by performing artists and topics depicted in films at Basie Center Cinemas do not necessarily reflect the mission, values or policies of the Count Basie Center for the Arts.