LIPA 4:19 gives young stars a chance to shine

For former actress Kate Allerston running a LIPA 4:19 academy was the perfect opportunity to pass on her passion for the performing arts to the next generation.

When former actress Kate Allerston began running a LIPA 4:19 academy she was keen to pass on her passion for the performing arts onto the next generation. Now the Cheshire-based academy teaches 50 students, Kate has fulfilled this ambition and has also recently given many of her students a day they will never forget when they performed in a professional theatre for the first time in front of an audience of 420 people.

"I'm so proud of my students and my teaching staff," explains Kate. "Every one of them has risen to the challenge and worked together to produce a fun show that really showcases their talents, from our tiny four year olds to the older teenagers. We called the show 'Rise' because we feel that it's given the kids an opportunity to rise above themselves to truly reach their potential."

Kate hired the Brindley Theatre for the show, a modern, purpose-built theatre and arts centre. "We used the 120 seater theatre in Fairfield High School for our previous performances so the Bridley was a big step up for us," she says. The extra space allowed us to pull out all the stops for the show. We included a diverse range of materials to allow the kids to show off their singing, dancing and acting skills, from Shakespeare to Broadway."

LIPA 4:19 is a part-time performing arts school that is directly linked to the established performing arts institution - the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Children aged between four and 19 attend the academy for up to three hours at the weekend, with their time spilt evenly between tuition in singing, dance and acting. The curriculum, staff training and administration processes have all been refined at the academy that has run at LIPA every weekend since 2003, allowing franchise owners to benefit from the experienced team, fronted by LIPA 4:19 co-ordinator, Kerry Watkins.

"Kerry has helped us in so many ways since we opened our academy in May 2009," Kate reveals. "She's an absolute star. If we're ever unsure about anything or need advice, she's always there to help and has even helped me to recruit teachers.

"It's great to be part of LIPA. It's such a well known and respected name in our industry and that brings a great deal of credibility to our academy. Kerry and her team are very supportive and have also allowed me and my amazing team of teaching staff, to express our own creativity within the framework of the business."

Although LIPA 4:19 academies can be operated as a management franchise where franchise owners do not have to do the hands-on teaching, the company stills looks for candidates who have a clear passion for the performing arts industry. "I worked in London as an actress for 13 years followed by five years running a theatre company in the capital," Kate recalls.

"When it was time to start a family I moved back to the North but continued my involvement in the arts through work as an Arts Officer for Fairfield High, a Performing Arts college in Halton, and as a moderator for Arts Award, Trinity Guildhall. Running a LIPA 4:19 franchise is sometimes a challenge but it is always rewarding."

Reported by Charlotte Urwin