Our History


The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts was established through a collaboration between Mark Featherstone-Witty RNOM OBE (LIPA's Founder) and Sir Paul McCartney, and has achieved much in its first 20 years:

1989 – Sir George Martin introduces Mark to Paul, and they quickly see the opportunity to combine their separate aspirations – Paul’s to save the building that housed his old school, and Mark’s to create a second multidisciplinary institution that prepared people for survival in arts and entertainment (the first had been The BRIT School). Combined, these aspirations created the first brand new higher educational institution in living memory – a development that some government bureaucrats did their best to hinder. 

1996 - LIPA was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 7th June.

2003 – Mark’s keenness to spread the LIPA philosophy saw the establishment of the first LIPA 4-19 academy in Liverpool, which opened with 200 students.

Today, LIPA is an acknowledged part of the UK’s higher education provision for the performing arts, providing degree-level learning for both performers and those who make performance possible.  By uniquely blending specialist and generic skills, LIPA’s unique curriculum enables students to collaborate as much as possible - after all, every performance event requires team work.

LIPA offers degree courses in Acting, Community Drama, Dance, Music Theatre and Entertainment Management, Music, Sound Technology, Theatre and Performance Design and Theatre and Performance Technology.  It also runs full-time one year Foundation Certificates in Acting and Musical Theatre, Commercial Dance and Popular Music and Sound, and also combines performance, technical innovation and business awareness.

LIPA has an enviable record of its graduates gaining sustained work in the performing arts. Every year it conducts a survey of its graduates, three years after they have graduated. For the past four years, it has traced on average 85% of each year group and, of these, on average 93% are in work and 82% are working in the performing arts.

Currently, LIPA has 787 students who are either studying on one of its eight degree programmes or on one of its three Foundation Certificate programmes. Some 231 of those students are from 36 international countries. As well as helping students develop themselves for their future professions, LIPA's impressive mix of nationalities also helps its students build strong international links.

Similarly, LIPA 4-19 has continued to grow since its inception, and now has over 600 students attending on Saturdays or Sundays, with a sister branch in Maghull. There are also LIPA 4-19 Associate Academies across the country too.​