Renovation of Abandoned Arthur Kill Prison
by John Falcone III
Excited by last month’s announcement that a professional production studio is coming to Staten Island, students and faculty of the Performing and Creative Arts department are hopeful that the studio’s presence in the community will lead to local internship opportunities.
“If we could get our students hands-on experience with a top notch facility like that, it would be great,” said Music Professor Sylvia Kahan. “Too often I hear that internships are about fetching coffee, so it would be fabulous if we could get our students internships with a professional studio like Broadway Stages.”
Broadway Stages is the TV, film, and music video production company which has purchased the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility for $7 million dollars in order to turn it into a Hollywood grade production studio.
In their existing studios throughout Brooklyn and Queens, Broadway Stages has hosted the filming of well known shows like “The Good Wife” and “Rescue Me,” as well music videos for mega artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West. With ties to HBO, CBS, Warner Brothers, and Universal Studios it is easy to understand why some students are genuinely excited by the possibilities which this studio could present.
“I heard that it was becoming a movie studio, but Broadway Stages? That’s incredible,” said Joseph Bushman, a college assistant in the Performing and Creative Arts department. “This could mean more opportunities for people involved in performing and creative arts, and it will be great for the economy of Staten Island.”
While some are excited about the possibilities, others are skeptical that the studio won’t provide much in the way of internships.
“I am not really sure how the studio will be beneficial for performing students at CSI. It’s going to be a place that they film certain projects, however, I don’t think this will affect the casting process for these projects. Actors are still going to need to apply for auditions that will most likely still be held in Manhattan,” said Dramatic Arts Major John Petsche. “It’s an extremely hard business and a local studio couldn’t hurt but I’m not sure how much one could benefit.”
Despite his doubts, Petsche is still holding out hope that a connection between CSI and Broadway Stages could turn into opportunity.
“I think it would be a very good idea to try and reach out to Broadway Stages for some sort of intern program,” added Petsche. “The best thing that could come out of these studios is getting in there and making connections with people already in the business.”
No matter where anyone stands on the feasibility of internships becoming a reality at the studio, one thing did appear unanimous: the faculty and administration believe CSI should reach out to Broadway stages and try to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.
“I think it will greatly benefit Performing and Creative Arts majors if the department endeavors to reach out to Broadway Stages to provide internship opportunities, or just some hands-on class experience,” said Senior Music Major Jose Mendez. “Being able to have this experience is beneficial no matter what career you want to pursue in the arts or in audio engineering.”
Though they did not make themselves available for comment, the Broadway Stages website states that the 69 acre site in the Charleston area will be transformed from an abandoned prison to a fully operational studio in approximately one year. The Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, which opened in 1976, was closed in 2011 as a cost cutting measure by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Since then it has sat abandoned, but the announcement that Staten Island would be getting its own slice of Hollywood in its place has the borough and the CSI campus buzzing with optimism.
“We should hop right on this,” said Professor Kahan. “The important thing now is to get in touch with the right people at Broadway Stages, let’s do this.”