Goal reached for HEARTS fund memorializing local actress

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HEARTS of Port Washington has reached its fundraising goals for a fund in memory of local actress Gina Farasciano that will award a $1,000 grant to a Port-based community theater program every year. (Photo courtesy of HEARTS of Port Washington)

A grant fund in memory of a late actress has reached its initial goal, according to arts organization HEARTS of Port Washington.

Board President Eric Gewirtz announced on Wednesday that HEARTS had surpassed its initial fundraising goal for the Gina Farasciano Community Theater Grant, created in memory of Port Washington native Gina Farasciano, who worked with theater companies across the North Shore prior to her death in April from pancreatic cancer.

This new grant will award $1,000 annually to a community theater or arts program in Port Washington. Gewirtz says that over 75 donors, with some in Port and one even in the United Kingdom, HEARTS has raised enough money to run the program for at least the next 10 years, enabling the organization to “bring bright smiles to countless faces, just as Gina did for so many.”

“We’re overwhelmed by the incredible support to this new initiative, which allows us to both honor and celebrate Gina’s great legacy in Port Washington but also to support theater for the next decade and beyond,” Gewirtz said. We’re all looking forward to creating and enjoying theater again, and we know that Gina’s creative spirit will live on thanks to the generosity of so many from near and far.”

Farasciano began her theatre career early on, spending her youth performing with the Port Summer Show.

After graduating from Schreiber High School, where she served as a master of ceremonies for the school’s 1989 talent show, and SUNY New Paltz, she joined productions held by the Port Washington Play Troupe, the Community Synagogue Theater Company, the Herricks Players, the Landmark Radio Theater, countless karaoke stages, and more.

In addition to performing, Farasciano also volunteered, helping out backstage at the Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards and donating hundreds of hours to the Gold Coast International Film Festival.

Prior to her death, Farasciano, then a resident of Garden City South, had been cast in the Community Synagogue Theater Company’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress,” which was to be performed at the Landmark Theater on Main Street in Port Washington in April. The production was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“There will never be another Gina, which is why we are honoring her memory by supporting the activities she loved so much,” HEARTS board member Joel Ronis said when the grant fund was announced. “She exemplified the fun, love, and creativity that makes the arts special, and we could think of no better way to recognize her legacy in our community.”

Interested parties can donate to the Gina Farasciano Community Theater Grant at heartspw.org/ginafarascianotheatergrant.html.

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