Perform celebrates its 20th anniversary!
Lucy Quick looks back at the past 20 years and tells us how it all started.
How did Perform start?
I was a musical theatre actress in Oliver! at the London Palladium and I loved working with the children. Most of them went to stage schools but I thought all children should have the opportunity to enjoy drama without the pressure of going to auditions or worrying about whether they were good actors or not. I wanted to develop a unique drama class that was entirely about helping them develop what we now call the 4 Cs: confidence, communication, coordination and concentration. So, one Sunday morning, 20 years ago - with just four children - my business partner and I opened our first class in Primrose Hill.
What's changed since 2000?
From the first Sunday class which I ran whilst juggling my acting career, we have now expanded to 472 schools across the South East and West and have almost 8,000 children attending weekly. We have 250 teachers - all working actors - who run classes every day of the week from Bath to Brighton with a lot in between. Our classes are all run by us and are not franchised, which is very unusual in our sector. These days, we also run holiday courses, birthday parties and an extensive education programme in Primary schools.
What's been the secret of your success?
My business partner, Will Barnett, is one in a million and we have different skills which complement each other. Will not only writes all the songs and scripts for our shows, he also looks after the marketing and technical and financial side of the business.
I look after the educational content of the classes and lesson plans, the recruitment of staff, training and maintaining our high standards of teaching, health and safety, launching in new areas and the many venues that we hire. We both love it and it never feels like work.
How is Perform different to other drama schools?
We put child development at the heart of everything we do. Every class has a different skill-building focus which the class content is centred around. Whether the child knows it or not (and often they don't) they are developing/honing/boosting or nurturing an important skill that will help them later in life.
What are you proud of?
My teachers. They are the most inspirational bunch of talented and entusiatic people you'll ever meet. I'm also very proud of our Bursary Scheme, which allows children from less advantaged backgrounds to attend. We currently have around 500 children attending classes via our Bursary Scheme.
We'll open more Perform schools across the country - we've just launched in Nottingham. Most importantly, we will continue our confidence crusade to help children fulfil their potential through drama, dance and singing.