LIPA 4:19 continues to perform

For former actress, Jo Walker, managing a LIPA 4:19 academy was the perfect opportunity to combine her passion for the performing arts and teaching.

Before joining the LIPA 4:19 franchise opportunity in September 2008, Jo Walker graduated from the prestigious Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) academy and went on to become the Head of Arts at Rainhill High School, Runcorn.

When Mark Featherstone-Witty, founder of LIPA, approached Rainhill High School to be the first franchise owner of LIPA 4:19, Jo jumped at the chance to manage the new academy.


“It was a bit of a coincidence really as Mark is a good friend of mine, so when I heard that Rainhill was going to be the very first LIPA 4:19 franchise owner, I was more than happy to be part of it,” reveals Jo. “Having studied the LIPA 4:19 curriculum, I understood what was expected of the new academy and knew that I would be able to manage it well.”

As part of the franchise package, new LIPA 4:19 franchise owners are provided with a training course held at the LIPA performing arts academy, where they receive a thorough induction into the marketplace, teaching style, curriculum and operations. To complement the course, franchise owners are given an operations manual to refer to and also benefit from access to proven marketing strategies used by existing LIPA 4:19 academies, plus help establishing their franchise from the experienced LIPA 4:19 support team.

“The training and support that I received from my Franchise Manager, Kerry Watkins, and the LIPA 4:19 team was excellent,” says Jo. “Even now, almost three years on, I am still in constant contact with the support team and they are always more than happy to help.”

As the LIPA 4:19 opportunity is operated on a part-time basis, Jo is able to continue working in her full-time position as Head of Arts at Rainhill High School, while managing the academy.

“At the moment we are running classes on a Saturday but next year, once the school’s new art block is completed, we will have the facilities to hold more classes,” explains Jo. “Since launching the academy in 2008, our pupil numbers have continued to grow year on year – the demand for training in the performing arts is huge.


“Not only does the LIPA 4:19 academy provide a fun and safe environment for children to sing, dance and act, it also produces excellent exam results. Many of our pupils have joined great drama academies after leaving LIPA 4:19.”

Although having an interest in music and the performing arts is helpful for running a LIPA 4:19 franchise, having a background in this area is not necessary as all franchise owners receive comprehensive training and support.

“I take on a purely managerial role at the academy,” says Jo. “I help recruit staff and make sure the academy is running smoothly. I think it helps if people have a passion for their work as franchise owners have to meet the excellent standards of the LIPA 4:19 network.”

Kerry Watkins, Franchise Manager at LIPA 4:19, says: “LIPA 4:19 is looking for individuals with a passion for the performing arts who want to make a difference – and a living – by building a business around talented, enthusiastic young people.

“This is an exciting opportunity for potential franchise owners looking to venture into a new performing arts business. We have worked very hard to create a high quality business model based on the Liverpool LIPA 4:19 academy.”

Summary of Operation

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) has set up a part-time performing arts academy franchise aimed at children aged four to 19. Franchise owners take a managerial role and oversee the running of the academy and can also teach some classes themselves (providing they have an appropriate qualification). Alternatively they can leave their teachers to run all of the classes and focus on supporting and growing the business.

Reported by Tiffany Brooking