A Decade of Breathtaking Performances

Ten years ago, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA 4:19) opened its doors with 100 pupils and thanks to incredible successes, expansion through franchising became the obvious next step. Gareth Samuel reviews a decade of breathtaking performances from the world-renowned franchise.

When any business hits the 10-year mark, it is impossible not to look back upon the highlights of a decade of growth. For the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, the franchised element (labeled LIPA 4:19) of the business – which was implemented in 2008 – is unquestionably one such moment.

Franchise owners of the business are expected to adopt the philosophy of the business by marketing and recruiting for the performance arts coaching services that their franchise provides. Some franchise owners are involved in the running of the classes themselves, while others fulfill purely a management role – LIPA 4:19 allows, and often encourages, flexibility for franchise owners.

The core ethos of the business is to put the enjoyment and personal development of its students first, shortly followed by the transference of performance arts skills. It is this manifesto that has won the school plaudits from across the performing arts industry.

“I’m very proud of how far LIPA 4:19 has come throughout the 10 years. The students that attend gain valuable experience in all three disciplines of dance, drama and singing making them all round performers when they leave,” explains Kerry Watkins, Principal of LIPA 4:19. The institution has now grown almost beyond recognition as it has seven franchised locations currently with more in the pipeline.

There is even a LIPA 4:19 in Bulgaria, which has managed to gain success through its link with the original Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and the reputation that this holds.

As it stands, the business is flourishing, as more and more pupils are encouraged to express themselves confidently through performance arts and social interaction. But far from sitting back, LIPA 4:19 continues to innovate and has brought in an exciting new scheme: “We have launched a new summer school this year with exciting new themes, Kerry continues, “and we are getting interest from potential franchisees around the UK.”

The progress of their LIPA 4:19 students has been worth the investment alone for most franchise owners, but there is an impressive return on investment to be made here too. Franchise owner for the Southampton area, Chris Talbot, is planning to run his business well into retirement as a source of enjoyment and income.

“I was drawn to LIPA because it was LIPA and there was a high emphasis on skills and working with children of every ability,” he says. “It suited my education ethos more than that of its rivals. I also liked the idea of being part of a network of franchisees and I do find the network support very helpful. I hope in the future to reduce my hours at my paid job and ultimately run LIPA as a part time business in my retirement. But I am not there yet.”

LIPA 4:19 has helped hundreds of students become more confident and more focused. It has also given many a future, with pupils qualifying for exclusive colleges including RADA and the New York Film Academy. However, having spoken to a number of existing investors, undoubtedly the biggest beneficiaries are the franchise owners.