The stage is set for franchise owner's success with LIPA 4:19

A year has passed since former actress Kate Allerston launched her LIPA 4:19 academy and she has loved every minute of it.

When Kate Allerston was offered the opportunity to become part of the performing arts franchise, LIPA 4:19, she jumped at the chance. Since the launch of her Liverpool-based theatre school in May 2009, Kate is amazed at how far it has come.

"My academy is doing great and the kids are fantastic, they're all so dedicated and professional, even the little ones. Having a personal passion for the performing arts, I love working in such a creative environment," Kate says.

Before joining LIPA 4:19 Kate ran her own theatre school in London which she started from scratch. She hugely enjoyed building up her own company but found it a long and difficult process. "One of the main factors that attracted me to the LIPA 4:19 was that it was an established company ready to go. Being a well-known and respected brand within the performing arts industry I felt LIPA 4:19 offered me a safety net," explains Kate.

"When working at Fairfield High, Liverpool, I was approached by the school's headmaster and asked if I would be interested in heading up a LIPA 4:19 academy, of course I said "yes" straight away. Before launching her LIPA 4:19 academy, Kate undertook extensive training under the wing of Franchise Manager Kerry Watkins.

"During my training I learnt about marketing, staff management, administration and general principal duties. Kerry has been an absolute star. If we're ever unsure of anything or need advice she's always there to help and has even helped me to recruit teachers in the past," says Kate.

"As a Principal I am responsible for everything, taking care of any queries, staff and pupils, checking in on classes, administration and ensuring that the academy is running smoothly. Every Saturday I am the first one in and the last one to leave, it's a demanding role but I enjoy it," enthuses Kate.

To celebrate the first year of Kate's franchise and to showcase the talent and achievements of her students the academy put on a production, Rise, at the Brindley Theatre, Liverpool.

"It was fantastic on the night, the kids were amazing. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, not literally, we got there in the end!" says Kate.

Being a mother, a LIPA 4:19 Principal on Saturdays and an Arts Officer during the week, it would appear Kate is a driven and ambitious individual, key qualities for a successful Principal.

"This year we are hoping to bring examinations to my academy so the youngsters can progress through the grades. As a drama teacher, I am also hoping to bring advanced drama classes into the curriculum," reveals Kate.

LIPA 4:19 is a part-time performing arts franchise which is directly linked to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, co-founded by Lead Patron Sir Paul McCartney and the academy's Principal Mark Featherstone-Witty in 1996. The stage school caters for students of all ages from four to 19 and offers a wide range of performance material from dance and singing classes to foundation and undergraduate courses.

Reported by Tiffany Brooking