Lee Williams is in the driver's seat for the Whanganui Visual Arts Symposium, and she is off and running with ideas and enthusiasm.

Appointed as coordinator on Monday, Ms Williams brings her experience as a costume designer for international films and stage productions to the role.

"Creativity is contagious and we have to spread it around," she says.

The symposium was the winner of the Whanganui Dragons' Den competition, held in 2016, in which entrepreneurs pitched a business idea to the judges.


Fine Arts Whanganui members presented the symposium idea which won the judges approval and led to the establishment of the Visual Arts Symposium Trust (VAST).

VAST is now in the process of moving into the former CES office next to the Community Arts Centre at 19 Taupo Quay.

Ms Williams was working with artists Alys Davidson, John Archbold, Melinda Hatherly and Marie Grice to transform the space yesterday.

"We have a timeline worked out, and we will hold the symposium from October 6 until October 8 and we have great things planned," she said.

"There will be visiting artists as well as Whanganui ones and we are waiting on confirmation from some."

Ms Williams is full of admiration for members of the fine arts group and says their willingness to share their abilities and learn from others is what drove the symposium idea.

She says Fordell painter Marie Grice is an example of how a strong creative drive can lead to success.

"Marie is a busy mum with a farm to run, and she has pretty much taught herself to create beautiful paintings.

"She shares her work with other artists, and she wants to expand on that.

"I think the name VAST is really apt, because we want to make it really big."

Ms Williams has recently returned to live in her home town, and she believes Whanganui is a perfect setting to hold an arts symposium.

"It is a beautiful city and an easy place for visitors to negotiate."

The Dragons Den prize has provided the seed money for the symposium, but Ms Williams said there would need to be fundraising, and she is hoping to encourage sponsorship.

"That is where my experience comes to the fore," she said.

"I'm not shy about knocking on doors and asking for help."

The format for the symposium has been mapped out, and Ms Williams said there will be plenty of variety and fun.

"The mornings will be devoted to art talks, which will inspire people before they join afternoon workshops."

Ms Williams said trust members had plenty of skill and experience and she was happy to have the support of artist Julz Coffey.

Ms Coffey has been involved in organising the successful fibre arts symposiums, that have now been running in Whanganui for seven years.

Ms Williams said she is interested in hearing from anyone who would like to help or learn more about VAST and asks that they visit the new website.