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Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

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Town or city  Liverpool, Merseyside
Construction started  1990
Cost  £20m
Phone  +44 151 330 3000
Founded  1996
Country  England
Completed  7 June 1996
Acceptance rate  4% (2010)
Total enrollment  690 (2010)
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Architect  David Watkins - Brock Carmichael Architects
Address  Mount St, Liverpool L1 9HF, UK
Undergraduate tuition and fees  9,000 GBP (2012), International tuition: 13,800 GBP (2012)
Founders  Mark Featherstone-Witty, Paul McCartney
Notable alumni  Jamie Lloyd, Liz White, Jonas Alaska, Sandi Thom, Dawn O'Porter
Similar  Liverpool John Moores U, Liverpool Hope University, Bird College, Rose Bruford College, City of Liverpool College

Liverpool institute for performing arts aka lipa perform at move it 2013

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) is one of the United Kingdom's leading institutions for performing arts. The university is situated in the English city of Liverpool. LIPA offers training in Acting, Applied Theatre & Community Drama, Dance, Music, Management of Music, Entertainment, Theatre & Events, Sound Technology, Theatre and Performance Technology, and Theatre and Performance Design.


It offers ten full-time B.A. Honours degrees, as well as two Foundation Certificate programmes of study.

The Education Guardian has previously ranked the university #1 in the UK for several of its degree courses. LIPA is regularly amongst the top 10 in rankings for specialist institutions also.

In September 2003, LIPA launched LIPA 4-19; a part-time performing arts academy for 4 to 19 year olds. Since then, a satellite school and associate academies have also been launched. LIPA started its own primary free school in 2014 and its own sixth form free college in September 2016.

Liverpool institute for performing arts graduation 2016


The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts was started by Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty RNOM OBE.

It was a meeting of two ideas: McCartney had known since 1985 that the building which had housed his old school — the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys — was becoming increasingly derelict after the school's closure, and wished to find a productive use for it; Mark Featherstone-Witty had set up the Brit School in London and wanted to try his ideas on a bigger scale.

Featherstone-Witty had been fired up by Alan Parker’s 1980 film Fame, about the New York High School for the Performing Arts. The film inspired him to think about what training would have best prepared him and others for lasting work in the arts and entertainment industry. The film gave him the idea that performing artists needed to train in all three performing arts (acting, dance and music) at the same time. Then he read a book about musicians who had failed to understand they were entering a business, despite the phrase "show business". He also took on board the idea that performers formed the tip of an arts and entertainment employment iceberg. Performers were a fraction of the employment. From these basic concepts, he created a blueprint for a new type of training and then spent three years quizzing the industry and refining his philosophy. By 1985 he had nearly 50 artists, directors, choreographers and entrepreneurs backing him.

Record producer Sir George Martin knew that Featherstone-Witty was looking for somewhere to develop a school, and that McCartney was looking for someone who could save the building, and so introduced them to each other. The struggle to create the facility and the school took seven years and is described in more detail on LIPA's website, and in a book by Featherstone-Witty. It was not easy, but then, as McCartney reminded Featherstone-Witty from time to time, "if it were easy, everyone would be doing it". It took £20m for the facility, the curriculum and the support to maintain and develop all three.

1996 - today

LIPA was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 7 June 1996, and since then its range of courses has expanded with each new academic year. From the start, the desire and so the challenge was to achieve excellence with access. The final solution was to offer higher education courses to achieve excellence and a range of open and flexible learning courses to achieve access. To this day, both embody the heart of the Institute.

LIPA celebrated its tenth birthday in January 2006 with a performance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and a new book, 'LIPA - The First Ten Years in Pictures', written by Mark Featherstone-Witty.

There have been a variety of highlights, the most rewarding being the achievement of the initial dream of sustained work. A recent survey of graduates who left in 2007 showed that 96% were in work, and 87% of those were working in the performing arts. In order to sustain this, the curriculum is constantly being revised.

LIPA was designated in 2006 – the first new higher education institution to have been started from scratch in living memory. As a performing arts HEI, LIPA is attended by the highest number of international students in the UK.

LIPA has been awarded the Gold Standard from Investors in People - the only HEI to have achieved this level in the UK. LIPA also has the highest concentration of Fellows and Associates recognised by The Higher Education Academy.

In March 2012, LIPA announced that it had purchased John Lennon's old art school building, the former Liverpool College of Art for £3.7million to expand its teaching accommodation.

In 2014 building work started on the Art School, which was completed, finally, in August 2016, creating high quality teaching and performance space.

In 2014 LIPA opened its own Primary School, under the Free School programme, nearby.

Using the same programme, LIPA opened its own Sixth Form College in September, 2016.

The primary and sixth were, at opening and afterwards, oversubscribed.


There were 5,225 applications to the institute through UCAS in 2010, of which only 208 were accepted, giving the Institute an overall acceptance rate of 4%. The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts takes a holistic approach when assessing prospective students.

Foundation Certificates

  • Foundation Certificate in Commercial Dance
  • Foundation Certificate in Popular Music and Sound Technology
  • Undergraduate (Degree)

  • BA (Honours) Acting
  • BA (Honours) Community Drama
  • BA (Honours) Dance
  • BA (Honours) Music
  • BA (Honours) Music (Song Writing & Performance)
  • BA (Honours) Music (Song Writing & Production)
  • BA (Honours) Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management
  • BA (Honours) Sound Technology
  • BA (Honours) Theatre and Performance Design
  • BA (Honours) Theatre and Performance Technology
  • Companions

    LIPA does not want to issue its own degrees, so rather than issuing Honorary Degrees like other British universities, it awards "Companionships". LIPA awards companionships to individuals in recognition of their contributions to the world of art and entertainment, particularly within the sectors to which LIPA is linked.

    Prospective companions usually attend the Institute at least once before they are invited to become companions in order to give masterclasses to students, or to participate in "Conversation with" type question and answer sessions. Some then revisit the Institute at later dates.

    2016 Martin Levan; Tim Prentki; David Babani; Darren Henley; Christopher Manoe; Alan Lane; Christopher Shutt; Tom Robinson. Tetsuo Hamada; Paul Whiting were also presented as honoured friends

    2015 Gemma Bodinetz; Fran Healy; Noddy Holder; Conor Murphy; Hugh Padgham; Scott Rodger; James Thompson; Sharon Watson. John T Rago was also presented as an Honoured Friend

    2014 Don Black; Samuel West; Adrian Jackson; Nick Starr; Colin Richmond; Patrick Woodroffe; Briony Albert; Giles Martin. Janice Long and Suzahn Fiering were presented as Honoured Friends.

    2013 Keith Johnstone; Mark Ronson; Stephen Mear; Xenon Schoepe; Andy Hayles; Seymour Stein; Rowena Morgan was also presented as an Honoured Friend

    2012 Matthew Bourne; Pam Schweitzer; Kevin Godley; Gary lloyd; Michael Harrison; Jason Barnes; Owen Lewis; Victor Greenberg was also presented as an Honoured Friend

    2011 David Bell; Paule Constable; Caroline Elleray; Chris Johnson; Steve Nestar; Billy Ocean; Hannah Waddingham; Spencer Leigh was also presented as an Honoured Friend.

    2010 Alan Moulder; LaVelle Smith Jnr; Dave Pammenter; Christopher Oram; Jonathan Pryce; Heather Knight; Midge Ure; Mark Summers was also presented as an Honoured Friend.

    2009 Will Young; Joe McGann; Pippa Ailion; John Fox; Richard Hudson; Natricia Bernard; Tony Platt

    2008 John Hurt; Trevor Horn; Cathy Dennis; Ann Harrison; Nitin Sawhney; Lea Anderson

    2007 Anita Dobson; Alan McGee; David Pugh; Ralph Koltai; Steve Levine; Ben Elton

    2006 Lynda Bellingham; Sir Ken Robinson; Jörg Sennheiser; Terence Stamp; David Stark

    2005 Guy Chambers; Robin Gibb; Alec McCowen; Tim Wheeler

    2004 The Bangles; Ken Campbell (actor); Tim Firth; Terry Marshall; Arlene Phillips; Willy Russell; Jon Webster

    2003 Barbara Dickson; Anthony Everitt; Nickolas Grace; Andy McCluskey

    2002 Stephen Bayley; Anthony Field; Thelma Holt; Anthony H Wilson

    2001 Joan Armatrading +; Benny Gallagher; Malcolm McLaren

    + denotes a Companion who is also a LIPA Patron.

    Notable alumni

  • Eugene McGuinness, singer/songwriter signed to Domino records.
  • Leah Hackett, actress who played Tina Reilly in Hollyoaks
  • Jesse Harlin, composer at Lucasarts
  • Leanne Best, film and television actress
  • Lindsay McKenzie, actress who played Princess Erina in the CBBC programme Raven
  • Liam Lynch, US based singer, writer & director
  • Dawn O'Porter, television journalist and presenter
  • Kent Riley, actor who played Zak Ramsey in Hollyoaks
  • Sandi Thom, a Scottish singer-songwriter
  • The Wombats, indie trio
  • Rachel Leskovac, actress in Coronation Street
  • James Breckon, World Renowned Pianist
  • Leon Lopez, actor in Hollyoaks: In The City
  • Liz White, actress best known in Life on Mars
  • Jan Burton, music producer
  • Javier Martínez Maya, music producer
  • Jon Lolis, actor in Hollyoaks
  • Donnaleigh Bailey, actress in Doctors
  • Lisa Stokke, Norwegian singer and actress
  • Christian Ingebrigtsen, Norwegian singer-songwriter and musician, best known from British boyband A1
  • Kate Havnevik, Norwegian singer-songwriter
  • Harry Thomas Radford, clean vocalist for Scottish post-hardcore band Yashin
  • Jeanna de Waal, actress who played Heather in the musical American Idiot on Broadway
  • Lindy LaFontaine, American singer-songwriter and winner of the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards
  • Mark Franks, singer in The Overtones
  • Becky Hannon, Wildcard contestant in Big Brother 13 (UK)
  • Alleviate, semi-finalists in Sky One's Got to Dance
  • Andrew Langtree, actor currently working with the RSC in their production of The Hypocrite
  • Jamie Lloyd, Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse
  • Jonas Alaska, Norwegian singer-songwriter
  • Mikhael Paskalev, Norwegian singer-songwriter
  • Marco Flores Mexican producer, arranger and guitarist. Recently played with Alejandro Sanz at the Latin Grammys - Mezcalito Music
  • Jessica Staveley-Taylor, vocalist in folk trio The Staves
  • Edward Croft, guitarist and vocalist in Jollyboat (comedy act)
  • Ben Brown - Founder of The Balloons Project
  • Dan Croll, singer-songwriter
  • SHIM, an independent singer-songwriter, musician and artist
  • Stealing Sheep, folk band
  • Alyssa Bonagura (2009) American singer/songwriter
  • References

    Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Wikipedia