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Our History

Our History

Based on the site of the Liverpool Institute for Boys, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts opened its doors to its first intake of students in 1996. Its conception dates back to 1991, when Mark Featherstone-Witty - who helped set up The Brit School – started formulating plans for his next project, a university level performing arts institution. 

Meanwhile, during preparations for his Liverpool Oratorio in 1992, Paul McCartney visited his old school, The Liverpool Institute for Boys. Seeing the building’s state of disrepair – the school had closed in 1985 – Paul vows to save it. A mutual friend, George Martin, introduces Mark to Paul. Together they start to draw up plans for the creation of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, based in Paul’s old school.

Our Timeline

  • 1996


    January - Following a £20m redevelopment, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts has its first intake of students. June. LIPA is officially opened by the Queen.

  • 1998


    June - LIPA’s first cohort of 150 BA (Hons) students graduate.

  • 2000


    Less than two years after graduating, Rachel Leskovac (Dance) is nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Spend, Spend, Spend.

  • 2003


    LIPA 4:19 is launched.

    June - Liverpool wins bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.

  • 2004


    LIPA’s 1,000th degree student graduates.

  • 2005


    Mike Crossey (Sound Technology) sees a band called Arctic Monkeys play in a small club in Manchester and offers to produce their first EP.

  • 2006


    January - LIPA holds its 10-year anniversary gala at the Royal Philharmonic Hall. Over 200 people take part. The audience includes Paul McCartney, and the gala makes news around the world.

    January - LIPA designated a higher education institution June. Sentric Music is established by Management grads Chris Meehan and Phil Cooper. Today the publishing company has over 200,000 artists on its their books.

    June - Sandi Thom (Music) has a UK number one with the single I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair) and goes on to top the album charts with Smile…It Confuses People.

  • 2008


    January - Graduate band The Wombats perform alongside Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart at the official opening of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

    May - The premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton’s musical The Beautiful Game, then performed as The Boys in the Photograph, was held at LIPA

    June - Stella McCartney hosts fashion show at LIPA as part of European Capital of Culture celebrations.

  • 2009


    A group of graduates and students take the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by storm and theatre company Selladoor is born.

  • 2011


    Dance graduates Nicolette Whitley and Renako McDonald, aka Alleviate, reach the finals of Sky’s Got to Dance.

  • 2012


    February - Acting graduate Liz White plays the title role in the film adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Two years later, fellow Acting graduate Leanne Best will take the role in the sequel.

    March - Jonas Alaska (Music) wins the Best Newcomer Award at the Spellemannprisen. LIPA purchases the former Liverpool College of Art building to expand its teaching facilities

    October - Amanda Stoodley, Theatre & Performance Design graduate wins Best Design at the UK Theatre Awards for Manchester Lines.

  • 2014


    Sept - LIPA Primary School opens

  • 2015


    May - Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education (QAA) awards LIPA Quality Mark for meeting or exceeding UK expectations for quality and standards in its QAA review.

    December - Theatre & Performance Design graduate Grace Smart wins the Linbury Prize.

  • 2016


    Sept - LIPA Sixth Form College opens, based on LIPA’s campus.

  • 2017


    May - Woody Harrelson screens his film Lost in London at LIPA and takes part in a Q&A with students. Among the audience, his friend Paul McCartney

    July - Dua Lipa releases New Rules which goes on to top the UK and US charts and is a massive hit around the world. The song is co-written by Music graduate Caroline Ailin. June. Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts receives Gold rating in the first Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) awards.

    December - LIPA Primary School receives ‘Good’ rating after its first Ofsted inspection.

  • 2018


    January - LIPA receives£3.9m funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to expand its facilities.

    April - Award winning theater company Slung Low bases itself at LIPA as it collaborates with students from all disciplines on a brand new devised piece of immersive theatre, Red and Black. It had a company of 211 students (including a cast of nearly 100), was performed 10 times over five days and was LIPA’s largest ever production.

    July - Paul McCartney takes part in a global Facebook Q&A with Jarvis Cocker in the Paul McCartney Auditorium for the release of his album Egypt Station. Paul and his band then perform an exclusive acoustic set for the audience of LIPA students and staff.

    September - Paul McCartney embarks on his Freshen Up tour with a new horn section: Music graduates Paul Burton and Mike Davis make up two thirds of Hot City Horns. Mike Smith, Theater & Performance Technology graduate, and his co-director at Bryte Design win a Knight of Illumination Award for Elbow’s tour.

  • 2019


    February - The film A Star is Born, co-produced by Management graduate Lynette Howell-Taylor, is nominated for eight Academy Awards. LIPA holds its own Oscars Night to celebrate.

    May - Award winning physical theatre company Gecko collaborate with students on The Centre and The Show. These productions form part of the company’s R&D for its forthcoming National Theatre production.

    May - Dance student Thomas Carsley wins the Street Dance Final of BBC Young Dancer of the Year competition.

    June - LIPA Sixth Form College rated as ‘Outstanding’ after its first Ofsted inspection September. LIPA’s new film and TV facilities, including multi-camera, broadcast studio (Sennheiser TV Studio), motion capture and green room, are open for use as first intake of Film & Creative Technology students join.

  • 2020


    April - Billboard includes LIPA in its international list of the Top Music Business Schools.

  • 2021


    June - Department for Education approves plans for LIPA High School.

    July - Hannah Peel (Music) is the first graduate to be nominated for the Mercury Prize for Fir Wave.

    September - LIPA High School has its first intake of pupils, temporarily housed in the LIPA Primary School building.

    November - LIPA hosts Liverpool premiere event of The Beatles Get Back documentary. It was one of only four global premieres. Producer Jonathan Clyde introduces film and takes part in Q&A.

  • 2022


    January - Graduate band The Wombats have their first ever UK number one album, Fix Yourself, Not The World.

    April - Poet Laureate Simon Armitage begins collaborating with students on a production of Gilgamesh.

    August - Acting graduates Gavin Spokes and Theo Nate appear in the much-anticipated prequel to Game of Thrones, House of the Dragons.

  • 2023


    May – Around 150 LIPA students and graduates help deliver the Eurovision Song Contest that is hosted by Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine. It includes dancers, musicians, lighting and sound technicians and managers who perform and work on the Grand Finals and the two week celebratory festival.

    November – LIPA listed as one of Billboard's Top Music Business Schools for a third consecutive time.

    December – LIPA Christmas Concert moves to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and attracts a sell-out audience of over 1,500.