The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Mount Street, Liverpool, L1 9HF
Tel: 0151 330 3000
Fax: 0151 330 3131
Founding Principal and CEO: Mark Featherstone-Witty
Theatre & Performance Design & Technology Programme Leader: Richard Reddrop
We want to provide the best teaching and learning for people who want to pursue a lasting career in the arts and entertainment economy. We provide education and training through a variety of styles of courses aimed at different age groups: primary, sixth form, Higher Education and weekend academies for four to 19 year olds.
The birth of LIPA came from two people who were introduced to each other by the late Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer. They were Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty.
Paul says: "I had always dreamt of being able to help my wonderful home town of Liverpool in some way or other. When I discovered the 1825 building which had once been my old school was derelict, saving the building became urgent."
He had discovered the state of the building in the mid-80s. He was making a home movie reminiscing about his days as a schoolboy while wandering around his old school. The building itself was a Liverpool landmark with an illustrious history.
When Paul entered the Liverpool Institute for Boys (as it then was) in 1953, it was a premier Liverpool grammar school. George Harrison was also a pupil. By 1985, the school was surplus to requirements because of inner city population decline and drift. Paul made the effort to discover that the building couldn't simply be sold by the local council (then the Trustee of the building) and the money spent on something not covered by the trust document. Basically, the building had to be used for education; the council didn't have any need for this use and also couldn't afford to renovate either. So, the building was in limbo.As Paul says: "As if by magic, Mark appeared." Mark had been fired up by Alan Parker's 1980 film ‘Fame', a film about the New York High School for the Performing Arts. The film inspired him to think about what training would have best prepared him (because he'd acted for a while) and others for a lasting career in the arts and entertainment economy. Talking with luminaries and survivors, Mark realised the key was enabling collaboration between different disciplines with different intelligences. The first creation was The BRIT School. Paul mentioned the plight of his old school to George Martin, who decided to bring both men together. Reflecting on his role, George said: "Now that LIPA is a reality, one can see how justifiable all the effort was. The building is great, the conversion brilliant, but best of all, the spirit of the people is a real high, which must be a reward in itself."
The struggle to create the facility and the school took seven years and is fully described in Mark's book ‘Optimistic, Even Then'. It wasn't easy, but then, as Paul reminds Mark from time to time, ‘if it was easy, everyone would be doing it'. It took £20m for the facility, the curriculum and the support to maintain and develop all three. A Royal opening by the Queen happened on 7th June 1996.
We have been told by government agencies that no HEI, like ourselves, has been started from scratch in living memory. Today, LIPA believes it is the only UK institution devoted entirely to the provision of higher education programmes across the spectrum of the performing arts.
We offer 10 degree programmes and two one-year Foundation Certificates which are validated by Liverpool John Moores University.
We operate a dual application policy for some of our degree programmes, which means that candidates need to complete a LIPA application form and to apply through UCAS. For almost all our courses, places are offered only after audition or interview.
LIPA offers two Foundation Certificates – which are ideal for students wishing to undertake a one-year, full-time, intensive, vocationally-orientated programme.
These are ideally suited to talented school-leavers aged 18 or over, who have had some experience in performing arts but would like to build on that to make their next step into degree-level study in the Higher Education sector. They are also highly suitable for mature students who want to undertake a one-year learning programme.