In anticipation of this year’s Dragons’ Den happening this Saturday, 10th March, Jia Qi (2018 Fellow) sits down with Candee Chee (2016 Fellow) to talk about ARTspire, an initiative that she pitched at last year’s Dragons’ Den.
1. Hi Candee! What’s your initiative about?
ARTspire is an initiative that aims to empower students to express themselves creatively and confidently through performing arts by providing them a platform to learn and showcase themselves.
2. How did the idea of your initiative came about?
Wei Ken (2016 Fellow) and I founded this initiative as we are both really passionate about performing arts. We both observed that our students were conforming, rather than being creative during school lessons.
Exam-based learning can sometimes be very black-and-white with what is correct and wrong. With ARTspire, we want to provide an outlet for students to express themselves in a supportive and positive environment.
We don’t have to teach students to be unique or creative. They already are. They just need a place to explore and unlock that potential in themselves. So we wanted to provide that platform for our students.
3. What were the resources that you were pitching for in Dragons’ Den, and how would it grow and develop your initiative?
We wanted as many students as we could handle. Our vision for ARTspire is to be this festival with pop-up performances, workshops, an intensive camp and a big finale production at the end. So we needed a lot of money to run. We pitched for money, venues, and publicity.
4. What was the outcome from Dragons’ Den, and how did your initiative take off from there?
We did not get any cash on the day of Dragons’ Den but Astro and Pinewood Iskandar invited us for a meeting to discuss the initiative further. They ended up being our biggest stakeholders. They funded us and also helped us with opportunities and resources for performances.
Although we didn’t get any money on that day, it was a great chance for us to present the initiative and get feedback from corporate stakeholders, as they have different perspectives. I tweaked my pitch according to the comments I got from Dragons’ Den and pitched it to other organisations and got over RM25,000 in funding and resources!
5. What were your key learnings from Dragons’ Den?
There are so many different stakeholders in an initiative and everyone has their own ideas of how it should work. Stay true to the core of the initiative but always keep an open mind with constructive feedback and comments.
Candee Chee is a 2016 Teach For Malaysia Fellow, who taught English and Art at a high-need school in Pasir Gudang, Johor. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Portsmouth. While on the Fellowship, she co-founded Project Kickstart and ARTspire – read more about her journey here.
Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. To date, we’ve impacted over 87,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.