Press Release

Matt Dawson as Vice President of Business Development

Dawson & Other Key Hires Reflect Expansive Growth of JRA

Cincinnati, Ohio – October 10, 2023 – JRA, part of RWS Global and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, has announced the hiring of former FORREC executive Matt Dawson as its new Vice President of Business Development. Dawson’s appointment comes as the experience design studio enjoys one of the most ambitious years in its 35-year history under the leadership of new Executive Vice President, Mark Amos.

In his previous role as Vice President of Business Development at global experience design company FORREC, Dawson served on the executive team responsible for setting corporate priorities, managing risk and monitoring the financial wellbeing and growth of the corporation. He also set the strategic direction for FORREC’s client relations and led a 12-person team to pursue new business development efforts across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Prior to his VP appointment, Dawson served as FORREC’s Senior Director of Visitor Attractions, managing client relations with such revered cultural institutions as Science North, Mandai Singapore Zoo and the Panama Canal Authority. A sought-after thought leader, Dawson has been a featured speaker at conferences worldwide and has contributed content to dozens of industry articles.

Earlier in his career, Dawson channeled his Master of Architecture degree and his interest in museums into a variety of planning, design and creative direction roles, first at Lord Cultural Resources and then managing large capital projects at Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musical Instrument Museum and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. He looks forward to leveraging his two decades of design and business development expertise in his new role at JRA.

“I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and creating authentic experiences, and JRA’s track record of doing both is what drew me to the studio,” said Dawson. “The brand reputation, growth potential and deep bench of talent at JRA are unique in this industry, and I look forward to sharing JRA’s story with clients and collaborators around the world.

“Matt could not be arriving at a more perfect time,” said Amos. “With the leisure market hungry for new experiences, we at JRA set a strategic growth plan in motion to expand our reach into new verticals and regions while deepening our relationships in existing ones. With his architecture and business development background, Matt is uniquely positioned to execute this plan and position us for global success.”

That success trajectory is already underway, as JRA has opened multiple cultural and attraction projects in the first three quarters of 2023 with over a dozen actively in the pipeline. Recent openings include the National Corvette Museum’s McMichael Family Education Gallery, the complete renovation of Louisville Slugger Museum, ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum, The Ozark Mill, Kings Island Adventure Port, View Boston, the Hasbro City FEC in Mexico City and highly acclaimed Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame. JRA’s ongoing collaborations with Original X Productions continued their journeys on three continents, with The FRIENDS™ Experience traveling to Detroit, Long Beach, Birmingham (UK), Melbourne (Australia) and Amsterdam and Harry Potter: Magic at Play! successfully completing its debut engagement in Chicago.

Projects in development include leisure, sport, cultural and brand destinations on land in the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Kuwait as well as at sea with some of the world’s largest cruise operators.

To support these projects, Amos has added industry veteran Sevak Petrosian and former Walt Disney Imagineering production designer Trent Taylor to JRA’s creative team:

· As JRA’s Assistant Vice President, Environments, Sevak Petrosian brings over 30 years’ experience in what he calls Production Experience Architecture, where placemaking meets experiential design. He began his professional career as an interior designer in Iran and received his master’s degree in urban design and architecture in Armenia. Further educational pursuits brought Petrosian to the United States, where he has since worked with such industry leading companies as Universal Creative and Paramount Parks. Petrosian was hired by Walt Disney Imagineering to master plan Shanghai Disneyland’s Treasure Cove area as well as the Thea Award-winning ride Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure. Previous work with JRA includes master planning for The Land of Legends Resort’s Theme Park and Aqualand in Antalya, Turkey.

· Creative Director, Trent Taylor is a proven leader of multidisciplinary teams that has leant his design, show production and art direction talents to some of the most high-profile projects in the world. In his most recent role as Senior Producer/Project Manager at brand experience creative firm Advent, Taylor led a team of 20 writers, designers and producers and managed over $20 million in show budgets across multiple projects as part of over $800 million in total project scope. During his tenure at Walt Disney Imagineering as Associate Production Designer, Taylor’s credits included The Making of The Hall of Presidents, Ratatouille’s Adventure, the transformation of EPCOT, the Na’vi River Journey and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

“Matt, Sevak and Trent have proven track records not only as great creators and innovators but also as exceptional team leaders,” added Amos. “I know they will inspire our existing team to push creative boundaries, explore new techniques and technologies and dream even bigger. With these three on board, plus the combined skill set of our planners, designers and project managers, I’m thrilled at the possibilities of what we can create together in the months and years ahead.”

Amos, Dawson and other members of the RWS Global team will be at IAAPA Expo (Booth 1067) November 13-17. Dawson will also be at the International Museum Construction Congress in Antwerp, Belgium November 5-7. To make an appointment, contact newbusiness@experiencejra.com.

 

ABOUT JRA:

Founded in 1987, and now part of RWS Global, JRA is an internationally recognized, award-winning team of next-level creators who transform imaginary worlds into real live moments for the ultimate guest experience. JRA’s team prides itself on designing vividly but responsibly, creating destinations that are not only beautiful and memorable, but also operationally successful. That is why JRA is a trusted creative force that brings to life attractions, exhibits and other immersive environments, captivating visitors on land and at sea. Services include master planning, writing & content development, experience planning & design, executive media production, graphic design, art direction and project management & fabrication.

For over 35 years, JRA has been creating extraordinary destinations for an impressive roster of clients and brands including Cedar Fair, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Cincinnati’s Black Music Walk of Fame, The Coca-Cola Company, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Google, Hasbro, LEGOLAND, Lionsgate, MSC Cruises, National Comedy Center, NBC Universal, Science Centre Singapore, SONY, The FRIENDS™ Experience by Original X Productions, Tencent, Toyota, Universal Studios Florida, View Boston, Warner Bros. and more.

 

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