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Whanganui's 'Den of Dragons'

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TLC graduate Jane Toy, along with fellow artists Marie Grice, Alys Davidson and Craig Hooker, have just walked out of a dragon’s den alive, and $15,000* richer.

They were judged by the four dragons**, as the team possessing the best vision, passion and skills to take their idea and make a real go of it. And they will. Not just once, but several times over.


Whanganui Dragons Den winners Marie Grice and Jane Toy

Whanganui Dragons Den winners Marie Grice and Jane Toy


Their idea:

Jane Toy and Marie Grice pitched a proposal to run a regular three day art symposium in Whanganui, New Zealand.

Their yearly art event will hold creative, hands-on workshops where artists and hobbyists can get together with experts and further develop their artistic skills. The symposium will also include guest speakers, lectures, and cover a broad range of art related topics such as running a gallery or investing in artworks.

Like Napier’s art deco event, Jane is confident that their event will boost visitor numbers to the Whanganui region and help grow the local arts economy. Her team are currently on the lookout for a naming rights sponsor.

“We are very confident in our idea. Whanganui already has 400 resident artists and many interesting galleries and creative spaces. It is our intent to place Whanganui squarely on the map as the visual arts hub for New Zealand. By creating this event we hope to educate and inspire all those with an interest in the visual arts, from the professional artist to the hobbyist, from curators to collectors, from art students to art teachers. It will be an all-inclusive arts education forum which we hope will go from strength to strength.”

– Jane Toy


Jane Toy, Marie Grice, Alys Davidson and Craig Hooker already work with six other artists in running Fine Arts Whanganui, an art gallery on Taupo Quay. They opened its doors last November and during this year’s Artists’ Open Studios event alone, received over 4,000 visitors over the two weekends, with very impressive sales. It was this success that spurred them to put forward their art symposium proposal.


Dragons Den Chairs

©Dragons Den Chairs. Image sourced from www.whanganuiwhatson.nz


*The $15,000 prize covers promotion, guidance, mentoring, and the right to stage their event in October 2017.

**Dragon judges were: Kathy Cunningham, Executive and owner of Empire PR; Simon Phillips, Director of Regions for NZ Maori Tourism; Petrina Maxwell, Founder of Agent 86 Events and Blair Jagusch, General Manager of Orange Productions.


Want to know more about Jane Toy? Read about her artwork here.

The Learning Connexion offers creative art programmes. Their courses range from creative thinking and visual conceptualisation to how to present your work to an audience. Request a prospectus to find out more.


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