The show goes on
After years as a working actor in London, mother-of-one, Kate Allerston, set up her Lipa 4:19 Academy in Halton, just east of Liverpool, to provide expert tuition for aspiring young actors. Gareth Samuel reports
Kate’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) franchise is one of eight institutions in operation – one of which is in Bulgaria. Her USP is that she operates the academy from a school, which provides her with a ready-made client list.
She says: “When we first started looking at the franchise, we thought we were going to find the market flooded, but if you look hard enough, you can always find a little niche.”
Attracted by the franchise’s potential to inject creativity into her career, four years on, she’s the academy’s Principle. The business also provides employment for four people and a volunteer.
The former West End star, who has also acted in Casualty and The Bill, trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Now, she is teaching her wide range of skills to children, and says it’s the perfect franchise for parents to run. “Setting up my own theatre company for young people in London over a decade ago awakened my passion for working with youngsters and children,” continues Kate.
“LIPA is a huge brand and it is very attractive to a lot of parents and young people because of the main LIPA Academy in Liverpool, which a lot of young people aspire to attend. It is probably one of the best drama schools in the country.” Outside of running the franchise, Kate works in arts leadership development at The Heath School – to which her academy is attached. However, for Kate, the best part of her franchise business are the glamorous shows.
In November 2012, members of her class of pupils performed a version of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, which was attended by the town’s mayor. They have also put on a rock version of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ as well as multiple montages, including ‘West Side Story’. Kate explains: “Students come to life when we are rehearsing for a show.” Kate believes that LIPA’s well established brand and constant support have helped her through the more difficult periods in the institution’s development.
She concludes: “I have experience of running my own business with my own concept and it was sometimes quite scary. “When you start LIPA4:19, they support you. They train you and provide a sort of safety net. “When you are running a franchise, you have always got the backup of the brand. In our case, we have got the support of the institute too and that’s why I recommend it.”
For Kate’s franchise, the future is glittering as an increasing number of budding thespians sign up to take advantage of her wealth of industry knowledge. For Kate, it’s all about inspiring a new generation to follow in Cilla Black‘s and Rex Harrison’s famous footsteps.