By Brian Laurito
In this series we're highlighting the businesses that form the foundation of Monmouth Arts' creative community, touching base to see how they're faring during the COVID-19 health crisis. This week we're putting the spotlight on One River School of Art and Design in Middletown. With locations across the country, One River School has continued to offer unique experiences to every student. We touched base with One River's Joe Kaplan to discuss how they've been adapting to life during the pandemic.
For those who don't know you yet, how would you describe your business?
Founded in 2012, “one river” west of New York City, One River School® has developed a unique method for teaching art and digital design classes to people of all ages and all levels. At our location in Middletown our students simply have more fun learning to create and produce compelling art. It's our belief that we are transforming art education, as well as providing an experience that changes lives in the communities that we serve. Today, our innovative program teaches thousands of students in 14 locations across the United States. We offer studio art and digital art classes for kids, teens, and adults throughout the year and host summer camps for kids and teens from June to August.
What’s been your biggest business challenge during COVID-19?
Our biggest challenge has been maintaining a profitable business, given reduced enrollment, while still ensuring that our students receive the same quality of instruction. We've been working very hard since the pandemic began to provide a very safe environment for all of our students, and our enrollment has been climbing back steadily. We also continue to offer online classes and camps for those students that may not be ready to return in person.
The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve .... How are you operating right now?
We quickly moved to 100 percent online teaching in April 2020 to save approximately 50 percent of our enrollment. We then launched our "CREATIVE. SOCIAL. SAFE." campaign for in-studio summer camps in June 2020, and we have been continuing to provide a very safe environment, while still enabling a creative and social experience. This has enabled us to continue our mission of transforming art education for all of our students!
Can you share an anecdote about your business or something that might surprise people?
We are one of the few businesses where you can still see a student's big smile—even with their mask on! Just look at their eyes!
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
We know how much fun our students have and how much they learn at One River School - Middletown. We are thrilled that more and more students are feeling ready to come back and create truly wonderful art—together and in person! However, if you're not ready, that's okay. We're still running our online classes and summer camps!
Do you have any upcoming events or promotions you’d like people to know about?
We're running a promotion for our summer camps! Using code "CAMP50" you'll get $50 off of any summer camp for early registration! This ends on April 18th, and seats are going to fill up quickly so be sure to register soon! Our monthly classes are also fantastic and are running continuously—sign up at any time!
Monmouth Arts has a great network of arts supporters. How can our members and readers support your business right now?
Please call us at (732) 737-8283. Go to our website at middletown.oneriverschool.com or come visit us at 1275 Route 35 Middletown (right near the Duck Donuts!).
Where can folks find you?
Interested in becoming a member like One River School of Art and Design? Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!