The UK’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage was made a Companion of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) by Sir Paul McCartney on Friday 28 July.
The award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, songwriter, and broadcaster was among nine luminaries of the arts and entertainment world to receive the accolade from Sir Paul, LIPA’s co-founder, at the Institute’s annual graduation ceremony.
LIPA awards Companionships for two reasons: outstanding achievement and practical contribution to students’ learning. Simon Armitage spent six weeks with LIPA students in 2022 as they worked together devising a new performance of the ancient epic poem Gilgamesh.
Simon was joined by Oscar winning costume designer Jenny Beavan, West End performer Anna-Jane Casey, singer and former UK Eurovision representative Sonia, playwright and director John Godber, Broadway and West End theatre producer Ashley Herman, multi award-winning lighting designer Tim Routledge and social justice and anti-racism champion Jacqueline Stewart, from campaigning women’s theatre company Clean Break.
Rock legend and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was also made a Companion. Robert, who wasn’t at the ceremony, visited LIPA in November 2022 to take part in a Q&A with students.
Sean McNamara, LIPA’s Principal and CEO says: “In the realm of the performing arts, creativity knows no bounds. Whether it be through music, dance, theatre, or any other form of expression, the performing arts provide us with a unique platform to communicate, and to serve as a mirror to society, reflecting our collective joys, sorrows, hopes, and struggles.
“As artists, creatives, change makers and cultural entrepreneurs, the graduating class of 2023 possess all of these qualities. The world of 2020, when many of our graduating students entered LIPA, was profoundly different to the one of today. The resilience and determination our students have displayed is an inspiration. We are immensely proud of them and today we celebrate their achievements and the transformative power that resides within them.”
Around 330 students from 30 different countries, attended the ceremony at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall having successfully completed undergraduate, postgraduate degree and foundation certificate programmes.
Back row (left-to-right): Ashley Herman, John Godber, Sean McNamara, Paul McCartney, Mark Featherstone-Witty, Tim Routledge, Simon Armitage. Front row: Jacqueline Stewart, Jenny Beavan, Sonia, Anna-Jane Casey. Copyright PA Media Group