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The old boys are back in town

Macca awards Midge Ure and Jonathan Pryce in LIPA graduation party

Published on July 30th 2010.

The old boys are back in town

Paul McCartney has given the popular thumbs up to graduation celebrations at The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

He made awards to new LIPA companions - artist and fundraiser Midge Ure, actor Jonathan Pryce, dance promoter Heather Knight, music producer Alan Moulder and theatre designer Christopher Oram.

Community arts champion Dave Pammenter and choreographer LaVelle Smith Junior, who also received Companionships, were not present at the ceremony but provided video citations.

LIPA awards Companionships for two reasons: outstanding achievement and practical contribution to students' learning.

This year, Mark Summers, a leading casting and creative director, became an Honoured Friend.

Ure, of Live Aid and 1980s band Ultravox, said: "I would have loved something like this as a kid growing up in the outskirts of Glasgow, someone to nurture whatever drive I had."I am one of the very lucky few, I get to wake up in the morning and fulfil my passions."

But Pryce, who starred in the Caretaker, at the Everyman last year, criticised the

Government's axing of the UK Film Council and added: "I've got the feeling the Tories don't like us and see culture as an elitist art form for people who can afford to pay for it.

"What they fail to see is that it's something that impacts on the quality of everyone's life."

LIPA opened in 1996 after a long campaign by the former Beatle to get his old mothballed secondary school, the Liverpool Institute for Boys, turned into something meaningful.

Founding principal and CEO Mark Featherstone-Witty said: "When Paul and I created LIPA, we knew there was no substitute for learning from the best. Aside from our staff, we wanted to attract outstanding practitioners to share their knowledge for all the disciplines we teach. Since we are in the provinces, it's a push for them, but these people have done it and we are all grateful."

This year nearly 300 students representing 14 countries, including Mozambique and Argentina, graduated from diploma, degree and postgraduate courses in performing art disciplines and related subjects such as management and design.

LIPA is in Sir Paul's old school, the Liverpool Institute for Boys, which underwent a multi-million-pound renovation to transform it.

He does this sort of thing every year.

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Dai BarnettJuly 30th 2010.

I wonder if Macca will ever follow Tom Jones and go natural on top. It is starting to look very odd and Tom Jones looks much better now. I am starting to think Ronald Reagan when I see him.

Queeny EyeJuly 30th 2010.

I have to say, anonymous, you sound a bit churlish. McCartney can't do right for doing wrong can he? Who can remember when everyone moaned that the Beatles never did anything for Liverpool, and when they do they get this sort of stupid negativity. Surely it's a good thing that standards are highth and that LIPA attracts students from around the world. You know, RADA never got where it is by just enrolling the Patsy Kensits and Ross Kemps from the local London boroughs you know. This attitude stinks.

Ian MyliverpoolomeJuly 30th 2010.

Funny how the Oldham Echo has never referred to it as the Q.E. II Fame School, isn't it?

AnonymousJuly 30th 2010.

I'm glad you mentioned hundreds of students from everywhere. Whilst it is great to see an international intake, LIPA was formed essentially to provide training for local people, especially kids from around Liverpool 8. LIPA has over the years become somewhat elitist, an enclave for non-Scousers in the inner city. Although there are a springling of locally born and bred students, they are in a very small minority. Yet another dream that didn't quite make it. Thanks a lot Macca.

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