September 18, 2017
I’m not one for the gratuitous anniversary celebration. Having spent 20 years in advertising and media, it always seemed that the lo-brow way to promote was to default to an anniversary promotion. Having said that, I am really proud that we just hit our five-year anniversary at One River and our future has never been brighter!
We recently announced our expansion into three new areas: Larchmont and Hartsdale, NYand Millburn, NJ (Please tell your friends). This news falls on top of a recent announcement that celebrated a franchise agreement for greater Chicago. Lastly, there are hundreds of people who have reached out to open a franchise location or work for One River and I am grateful for the interest in helping us “transform art education.”
We will continue to do all we can to celebrate contemporary art and design education and make One River a place that supports creativity within the communities that we operate in. Five years = one inning in business … now it’s simply top of the second.
Image Credit: Detail by Mel Bochner, 2015
July 31, 2017
I recently asked a bunch of my employees to describe themselves in two words. And, I also asked them to do it quickly…the first two words that come to mind tend to be the ones that frame who you are. (try it…write it down). Curious and passionate where my two words and while I believe there are many others that add to my profile, these two do a good job describing who I am and clearly support my interests in education, art, leadership, broad learning and building things.
For the last twelve years I have been involved in building creative education businesses and at the root of these businesses is the notion that creative education is functional education.There is a great article in today’s NY Times by Kristin Wong that talks deeply about the need for “broad learning”. The article is broken into two parts and one of these parts debates the choice of “specialized learning” as an undergraduate track. With the cost of higher education, more of the decision making process than ever before is focused on the return on investment to offset the egregious cost of higher education and the massive student debt that often comes with it.
The other part focuses intently on the need to build broad skills and nuanced thinking to become well rounded beyond your basic core competencies. According to the article, this often suffers because young adults are so immersed in a specialized track that they don’t get to expand their horizons and develop new competencies to help them grow. Whether we are young or old, we must challenge ourselves to try new things…. take new classes…do creative projects…expand your horizons…these things will help you evolve.
Lifelong Creative Learning is at the essence of what I think we need as humans and I am doing all I can to live, share it and celebrate it.
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverSchool #BroadLearning
January 10, 2017
No we are not starting a college. But, last Friday I visited Michael Rees and The Center for New Art at William Patterson University and I was so happy to see the innovative approaches to teaching art at the college level that exist right here in our backyard.
Michael Rees is the Associate Professor and Director of the program and I couldn’t be more impressed with his vision for his program and the innovative / comprehensive approach that is built into his curriculum. Mike is also a world-class artist…his work has appeared in two Whitney Biennial’s and he holds an MFA from Yale University. (Check out his work here.)
As I delve further into growing One River School nationally, I remain deeply committed to finding like-minded people to collaborate with. I also am hopeful that more of these people exist right here in our community. It takes a vision to build something special but even more important is finding people who can challenge my assumptions and add new ideas.
Take a look at the work Mike and William Patterson are doing. I believe they are on the front end of the curve…developing more creative young adults. And more creative people will simply make us a better society.
#MondayThoughts #OneRiverUniversity #WilliamPatersonUniversity
September 19, 2016
September 13, 2016
It’s truly great to know what you love to do. It’s even better to have the chance to do it for your career.
One River School has pioneered an innovative, new concept that is going to Transform Art Education in America and we have created a franchise opportunity for a select group of people…smart professionals who care about others. We are talking about people who love the Visual Arts, want to improve Creative Education and have the Ambition and Drive to build a Compelling Business in the space.
It has been rigorously tested with students of all ages and all levels and is supported by a Proprietary Product Mix and Curriculum that was written from the ground up. I have personally developed a strategy to provide the best tools to Support our Franchisees as well. This includes state of the art Training, Operations, Marketing, Enrollment and Educational tools that will help to drive high Customer Satisfaction and Economic success.
If you are interested in pursuing a New Direction in your life that combines your Love for Visual Art, your interest in Helping People Grow and the prospect of developing Great Financial Success, a One River School Franchise may be right for you. I am personally interested in meeting people who share my passion and I welcome your desire to learn more about our program. Click here to learn more about this amazing business opportunity and I hope that we have the chance to connect soon.
Founder & CEO
August 29, 2016
Mike Ragogna: You have a new venture, One River School of Art + Design. What gave you the idea and how did it come together?
Matt Ross: Let’s face it. Art education is broken in America and has been so for many years. One River dissected what was wrong with art education and developed a new approach that has made learning art fun and cool. And along the way we developed a plan to “transform art education in America”.
Ragogna: What made you franchise One River School of Art + Design as opposed to outright owning and expanding?
Ross: We are actually doing both. Our goal is to find the right operators across America and also identify select markets for company-owned units. It’s a big country and we want to bring our service everywhere. What better way to grow than partnering with franchisees in their home towns? We are looking for people who have a passion for the visual arts but also have the skill set to build and lead a great business.
Ragogna: What kinds of courses does the school offer and what kind of faculty are you involving, and what are the teaching methods and classes?
Ross: Over the last five years we have refined our proprietary methods called “Art Shuffle” and “Art Focus” into “a new direction in art education.” Our courses are designed for people of all ages and delivered in a state of the art facility that feels like you are in Soho.
Ragogna: What should a student expect to have learned after “graduating” from One River School of Art + Design?
Ross: How to appreciate making and consuming art. They should have the ability to determine what is well done, what is relevant and what is potentially important. They will also likely continue making art for the rest of their lives because we provide a fun experience first that fosters the enjoyment of making art. They will take this with them.
Ragogna: Does One River offer any artistic subjects or approaches that are unique to the school or perhaps are better than our traditional school system?
Ross: Another innovative aspect is the school’s focus on Contemporary Art. One River has patterned its lesson plans on the last 50 years of art making and is tapping into a growing interest in the work of living artists as subject matter for its curricula. This provides for a fresh approach and produces vibrant artistic outcomes that are in line with today’s art world. We also have pioneered some innovative courses in digital arts and using the latest technology in our classroom that is largely reserved for university level work.
Ragogna: What is your own history with art and while we’re at it, music?
Ross: I am not a visual artist but I create everyday. When I was young, I was in the performing arts and like a lot of kids I stopped when I didn’t find a local space to nurture that interest. I learned to play music and have written and recorded. I have also developed a couple of screenplays and dabble in photography and video. At the end of the day, my creative energy gets applied to business and branding and that has provided some great rewards for me.
I also spent 20 years in radio working for and running some of the most important radio brands in the country, including Q104.3 and Hot 97 in New York.
Ragogna: Matt, you were also an early employee of School of Rock. What was the origin of the School of Rock and what was your role?
Ross: I was hired in 2005 and ran the company until mid 2010. We went through a dynamic growth period and I am proud of the work I did there and remain a partner in the business today. Paul Green was the Founder and created the concept and many people believe he was the inspiration for the Jack Black character. Just so we are clear, One River is not owned or endorsed by School of Rock.
Ragogna: Both art and music always seem to be the first cuts made when there are budget concerns. Since it’s been proven that a child’s healthy development needs to include art and music in the very least for hemispheric balance in the brain, why don’t we acknowledge this? Is this in the same category as climate change denying?
Ross: LOL…I love it. I just read an insanely powerful article in the New York Times about climate change. My guess is the denial is not that bad…climate change will destroy the Earth. Not having art and music will destroy the soul…but you can still be alive and spend your time watching sports on 75 sports channels.
Ragogna: What advice do you have for visual artists?
Ross: Make a lot of work. Have fun. Don’t try to be too serious. Get to know as many other artists as possible. Continue to educate yourself. And most of all, it is not a straight line to economic success but it may be your purpose in life so be sure to give it your all. We need artists to keep our world in balance.
February 8, 2016
Back in 1991, I was introduced to Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People and it radically changed me. I had an MBA and a bunch of years of success under my belt, but I didn’t have a process to stay focused on the right things. The best thing about Covey’s approach is that it combines business goal setting with personal goal setting and it provides a system to simply focus your time on what matters most.
Life is damn hard. Build your plan to do things better and smarter. Tap into tools like Stephen Covey’s and others. Focus on the major priorities in your life and set some aside time for your own personal growth and development.
Eat better. Drink less alcohol. Exercise more. Find your spiritual center.
Take a cool class…Art or anything that makes you think differently.
Spend less time with the people around you who are negative.
February 1, 2016
August 10, 2015
Now that I am post 50, I find myself starting to think more about how precious time is. Part of the problem is the litany of choices are excruciating: do I watch the game or get caught up on Season Four of Breaking Bad (yes only 4), do I do some work or sort my photos from my recent trip, do I read one of the four books I have started or watch some of SNL that I recorded, and so on and so on.
One of the choices I try to make is to read Bob Lefsetz blog when it hits my inbox. Bob is a veteran of the music industry and he writes about the state of affairs of that business, while weaving in observations of life from the perspective of an aging boomer. Bob has been to the dance, understands it and is now sharing his wisdom with a broader universe than he ever had when he was selling music to the masses. Last week he wrote a piece called “too much of everything” that goes hand in hand with what I have previously described.
My “Monday Thoughts” started a couple years ago when we opened One River and the promises I made back then were to say something relevant, be brief, share with people who are interested and tie in some themes that make us think about being creative. Opening an art center is a counterintuitive thing. In todays lightning paced world, I believe people want to slow down and have a cool, creative interactive experience. I also believe that enjoying art, both making it and consuming it, is the perfect elixir to the brain train filled with endless stuff.