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Pursue your passion with LIPA 4:19

After being made redundant from her role as a GCSE Dance teacher, Laura Walkom was able to fulfil her dream of opening her own dance academy with performing arts franchise, LIPA 4:19.

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).
Initial investment required from £13,500 + VAT

Laura Walkom, a qualified dance teacher, was disappointed to learn that dance was going to be cut from the Ramsey Grammar School curriculum, resulting in the loss of her job and no performing arts training for the local children.

“The kids were devastated when they heard the news,” recalls Laura. “There is nowhere on the Isle of Man for children to gain proper performance qualifications, so I decided that if the government can’t afford to provide for these kids, then I’m going to have to do something about it.”

Having always wanted to run her own dance academy, Laura embraced her redundancy and decided that now was the perfect time to make her dream a reality.

LIPA is one of the leading performing arts institutes in the UK, so when I discovered that franchise opportunities were available, I just couldn’t believe it,” says Laura. “I got in touch with LIPA 4:19 Franchise Manager, Kerry Watkins, straight away to get the ball rolling – I couldn’t wait to get my academy started!”

In a bid to find the perfect facilities, Laura tirelessly searched for months before finally finding the ideal building for her LIPA 4:19 franchise.

“I wasn’t just looking for a building that had enough space, I was looking for somewhere that the kids could come to and feel safe,” explains Laura. “So when I found a property, which local businessman Michael Bell had recently built, I knew that I had found exactly what I was looking for.”

In the build up to her academy launch, Laura generated local interest by handing out flyers, setting up social networking pages, organising radio announcements and putting posters up wherever she could.

“The last few months have been very hard work but it’s been worth it,” she adds. “I have received a lot of interest from parents and children from all over the island and am struggling to keep up with enquiries.”

To prepare for the launch of her Ramsey-based academy, Laura attended a comprehensive four-day training course at the LIPA academy in Liverpool, which included a thorough introduction 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.

“Owning my own academy really is a dream come true,” enthuses Laura. “The biggest benefit for me running my own LIPA 4:19 is that I know the children are receiving the best training possible and now have a chance to properly develop their talents and pursue their performance careers.

“It’s still early days,” continues Laura, “but if demand continues as it has been, it won’t be long until I need to think about opening a second academy.”

Written by Tiffany Brooking