The scholarship, which will be presented at the Syracuse New Times SALT Awards on Sunday, April 27, is open to all graduating high school seniors with a declared major in theater arts. The award has also become a personal tour de force of sorts for Basile. Although a theater major in college, she left school without a degree to pursue an acting career in New York City.
“In retrospect it was a bad choice,” she acknowledged. “I should have gotten a four-year degree so I could have something solid to hold onto. Yes, I worked and got experience and worked professionally for a number of years, but I don’t have that degree and that piece of paper that says I have a B.A. in theater.”
She worries that students today have the same mind-set that she had and don’t quite understand the importance of completing their theater education. “Theater is a real substantive career,” she said. “It’s not just standing on stage, it’s backstage, lighting, costume, stage management, sound, writing, all of the above. There are literally hundreds of opportunities that kids can go into if they have an education.”
So with this in mind, Basile launched SALT Scholarship Inc. She was able to raise more than $5,000 this year, more than the first two years combined, and three seniors will be awarded the kitty of her hard work as well as paid tuition to a theater summer camp.
Once a year, Basile sends a fund-raising mailer to the community to collect donations. She also runs a silent auction at the SALT Awards and collects donations, but admitted it’s hard. “I have a handful of staunch supporters and they are both actors and producers,” she said. “But a majority of the theater community is accustomed to donating to larger established causes, like the United Way. What I’m doing is much more grass-roots.”
Her goal is to solicit commercial sponsors, but she lacks the operational funds and the manpower to produce the necessary brochures and literature. But that hasn’t kept Basile down; she still loves what she’s doing and has no intention of stopping even if the scholarship continues to run as her own one-pony show. “I do this from my heart and if I write a check it’s out of my bank account,” she said. “When someone writes a check it’s going directly to the child’s pocket.”
To contribute to the SALT Scholarship, contact Basile at 445-9635 or e-mail email@example.com.