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A European union

LIPA 4:19 Bulgaria was the brands’ first European academy. Franchise owner Martina Nenova talks to The Franchise Magazine about the support she received in setting up her business and why the LIPA 4:19 model is such an important one.

Prior to becoming franchise owner of LIPA 4:19’s Bulgaria performing arts academy in Sofia, Martina Nenova was already an experienced performing arts professional and one who also had some experience of working with children, particularly those in need of extra care, orphans and others from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Wishing to combine her passions for helping children in similar circumstances and for the performing arts, it was through the pages of The Franchise Magazine that Martina first came across LIPA 4:19 and its franchise offering. Researching the brand further, Martina was very impressed by the way the business was set up and the passion it clearly had for its students.

“Most importantly of all,” Martina says, “what LIPA 4:19 could offer was the chance to achieve one of my primary goals and that was to provide disadvantaged children with the opportunity to integrate into larger circles of children from all types of background, while at the same time allowing them to develop creatively as individuals.”

Holding its classes at the four-star Metropolitan Hotel in Sofia, LIPA 4:19 Bulgaria is LIPA’s first European school, and is the only Academy of Theatre Arts for Children in Bulgaria which is connected to a higher education institute in the UK.

Being LIPA 4:19’s first European academy, the job of setting up and opening it was always going to be a challenge, however it was one that was greatly aided by the strong, ever present support provided by LIPA’s head office and its existing network of franchise owners.

“Ahead of opening my LIPA 4:19 academy, Franchise Manager and head of LIPA 4:19, Kerry Watkins, travelled from the UK to assist in getting things off the ground,” Martina says. “Their help and support was absolutely invaluable, and has been ever since. I know with LIPA that I am never alone when it comes to facing difficult issues or challenges, and that help is always just a phone call or email away.”

In 2011, Martina’s academy had a total of 17 students. Today this number has risen to approximately 100, with a good number of those having travelled with Martina to the UK over the last couple of summers on her visits to LIPA’s head office and its UK facilities. During these visits Martina’s students participate in the LIPA 4:19 summer schools and get to experience the excellent facilities at LIPA for themselves.

Having now returned to Bulgaria, Martina continues to hold regular classes, all the while providing her students with the opportunity to develop more as individuals, express themselves creatively, and help further their careers in the performing arts industry.

When it comes to what it strives to provide its students and achieve as a brand, Martina really is a shining example for all that LIPA 4:19 stands for.