When Gina Argento — President and CEO of New York’s largest television and film studio, Broadway Stages — took the reigns of her family business 12 years ago, she laid down some new policies. As a female CEO in a competitive and cutthroat industry – Hollywood – Ms. Argento had to juggle many business deals, contract negotiations, real estate acquisitions, etc., all while proving herself as a capable and successful leader. But, her first focus was to weave a thread of “giving back” into the fabric of Broadway Stages. “Education, Community, Environment, Family and keeping things hyper-local,” said Ms. Argento, when asked what drives her and what she is passionate about, besides television and film production.
Gina began as a shadow at Broadway Stages when she was only 10-years-old, spending summers off and other vacations working with her brother, Anthony, in their initial soundstage in Queens, where they filmed music videos for MTV and commercials. They have since expanded into two, soon-to-be three, boroughs in NYC, and to over 40 sound stages and production facilities.
Ms. Argento said: “I grew up in the business, so I understand the ins-and-outs and the day-to-day management of our studios and production facilities.” She continued, “when I stepped into the role of CEO and President, I wanted to make sure that we focused on giving back and that we were ‘doing good’ for our local communities within Brooklyn, Queens and throughout New York City.” With Gina at the helm, Broadway Stages continues to make a lasting, positive impact in the local economy, in small businesses, in the environment, and in individual lives.
Parktivity, a nonprofit that builds and revitalizes parks and playgrounds for underserved youth in India and the Philippines, is one of Ms. Argento’s favorite international charities. On a more local level, she recently donated $15,000 to the Camp Brooklyn Fund, a nonprofit that sends local children to sleepaway camp, who couldn’t otherwise afford to go. In addition to the recreational and summer activities that Ms. Argento sponsors or donates to, she is focused on providing scholarships to NYC college students, working with local public schools, and rolling up her sleeves as Teacher or Principal for a Day programs in NYC schools. “For me, it’s not just about making a contribution. I prefer to share my time, get my hands dirty, and help in any way I can,” said Ms. Argento.
Ms. Argento and Broadway Stages had tremendous foresight in helping provide the space and financing for NYC’s first-ever, year-round community rooftop garden. Broadway Stages’ soundstage at 222 West Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is covered by an energy efficient, bio-diverse Green roof, which grows organic produce that is sold to local restaurants. “We have built a lasting partnership with a food education program called Growing Chefs, which helps us provide volunteer and education opportunities and classes to local students, where they learn about farming, planting, maintaining a garden, and agriculture in general.” Ms. Argento continued: “during NYC’s grow season, our Eagle Street Rooftop Farm works with and supplies a local CSA (community supported agriculture) organization, an onsite farmer’s market, as well as bicycle-only deliveries to local restaurants. We don’t want to just give back, we want to create opportunities for children to learn, for our community to come together, for our buildings to be energy efficient, and to grow fresh, local produce in our rooftop gardens and farms.”
Broadway Stages is hyper-local and works with small businesses and vendors for all of their production needs. From Grumpy’s coffee shop (made famous by HBO’s Girls), which is down the block from their headquarters in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to local restaurants, woodworkers, builders, set designers, lighting experts and more, Broadway Stages uses mom-and-pop type businesses for all of their needs. Ms. Argento and Broadway Stages also encourages the film and television production teams that they work with to use their hyper-local vendors/neighbors. “If we are going to operate in NYC neighborhoods, then it is important to promote local businesses and do everything we can to keep our mom-and-pop shops around. Our communities are the legacy we leave behind and it’s incumbent upon us to ensure our communities continue to thrive well into the future.”