Downtime with Matt Stringer

Jason E. Kaplan

The executive director of Ontario’s Four Rivers Cultural Center talks about what he does when he’s not working at the multidimensional nonprofit.

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What I am reading

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Best of Me by David Sedaris, I Am Charlie Wilson by Charlie Wilson (the Gap Band lead singer).

What I am watching

Hollywood on Netflix, Love, Victor on Hulu, Only Murders in the Building on Hulu, Golden Girls reruns (I miss my mom), Caleb Dressel crying at the Olympics, and Homeroom, a brilliant documentary about the power of youth to change the world.

What I am listening to

New Edition, Guy, Exposé, TLC, Usher, Bell Biv DeVoe, Whitney Houston, Buffy Sainte-Marie, U2, Coldplay, Keith Sweat, NSYNC, Johnnie Ray, The Andrews Sisters, Deniece Williams, Phyllis Hyman, Kelly Clarkson, Will Bradley Orchestra, Billie Eilish, Amy Winehouse.

Must-have gadgets

Apple Air Pods, Ring, Tiles, Roku and Nest.

My hobbies and interests

Hiking, swimming, reading, nature, botany, bird-watching, pets (I am a bleeding heart for animals) — but most of all, music.

Earliest ambition

From age 5, I wanted to work in the music business. I was able to do that for 29 years in New York as the senior VP of marketing for various music labels — Island, Arista, Sony Music. I am pretty structured, so I like the discipline of business, but it has to be creative business, and to me the most creative expression is music, and music is my life.

Favorite places to vacation

I love Cambodia and Thailand, but I think the most special place I have ever been is Seville, Spain. Flamenco, tapas, blood-orange blossoms, warm weather, ancient streets — it is beautiful. Prague is very special, Vienna is beautiful, and Budapest is quite elaborate and foreign. I love Charleston, South Carolina, and West Jefferson, North Carolina.  I would like to live in James Madison’s house, Montpelier, in beautiful Orange County, Virginia.

Biggest extravagances

Flying only business/first class, very nice hotels on vacations, dentures, eye glasses and La-Z-Boy chairs for friends — and funding for an autistic 55-year-old to have a job.

What motivates me to come to work

At Four Rivers Cultural Center, we respond to every human being with a focus on culture and diversity. We work with: foster youth, juveniles involved in the justice system, youth of color, those from distressed homes, differently abled people, hyper-rural people (15 miles from a school or town), houseless/homeless youth, people who speak English as a second language, single parents, migrants, immigrants and refugee children. We are a community-based organization that can respond to any community need or crisis, seeing the COVID pandemic as an opportunity to assist and contribute in myriad ways.

Professional role models

Record-business impresario Clive Davis and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

Future ambitions

To write a bestseller, to have my songs recorded, to travel extensively, to continue to participate in community in capacities like school board member, to build a home and design the landscaping (5,000 square feet and you can call it a mansion), to retain health of mind and body, to relax, to meditate and go to the gym, do yoga regularly. To learn to cook and eat healthier foods.