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Paul with Mark Featherstone-Witty

It's one year since Club Sandwich first focused on the plans for LIPA, Paul's enterprising scheme to turn his now-derelict alma mater into the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. One incredible year, in fact.
            Wide-ranging support has been quickly accumulated, inside as well as outside the British music industry.
            A team of architects has been engaged to turn the vision into a structured reality, with some urgent refurbishment of the old Institute already underway.
            More than £9m of the target £12.4m funding has already been pledged (some with strings attached, some not), with MPL giving £1m, the British government (via its City Challenge programme) £4m and the European Commission a similar sum. Even the Queen has made a donation!
            Most of these achievements are the result of incredible industry on the part of Mark Featherstone-Witty, the administrative director of LIPA, who has participated in approximately 400 meetings these past 12 months and seen his original plan for a performing arts school (sec CS60) take several quantum jumps in the right direction. Despite his modesty, even he has to admit, "We've done extraordinarily well; in the first nine months of 1992 alone we conceivably raised nearly £9m. And the amazing dung is that there's just Bergen Peck [the development officer] and me working from a small Liverpool office we call 'The Cupboard'!"
            But Paul - does he ever stop working? - has kept tabs on events all the way, and continues to spearhead the fund-raising campaign, most notably in 1992 by hosting three special lunches, private affairs which were organised to obtain and consolidate donations and support from a wide range of interested parties. "The guests know that they're there to donate money," concedes Mark. "There's really no point in wasting space on someone who's unlikely to give."
            Carefully selected guests at the lunches were equally carefully placed, dined and shown a LIPA promotional video - "so that people could get a feel for what the building is like and what it will become, and the general atmosphere we're hoping to generate". Then they were addressed by two speakers: Mark and Paul himself, who told guests how he got involved with the project, his feelings for his old school and what LIPA will mean for the city and people of Liverpool. As they left, the guests were then handed an appeal brochure and - as a memento of the lunch - the video.
            "The first lunch took place on 21 February at the London office of the Performing Right Society," recalls Mark. "Since Paul is a very prominent music publisher and songwriter it seemed appropriate to tackle the music publishing industry first. All of the major companies were there, as a consequence of which, in addition to making an upfront donation of something like £260,000, the trade body MPA [Music Publishers Association] decided it would make LIPA the focus of its fund-raising activities for the foreseeable future. They've pulled together a scheme called The Singer And The Song where established music acts arc invited to nominate a songwriter to write a song for them, and the proceeds from this album will be given to LIPA.
            "The second lunch was held on 2 July in a rather magnificent building in Brussels, around the corner from the European Commission, and to that we invited elected officials of the EC itself. The third, at The Groucho Club in London on 1 October, was geared towards trusts and foundations, private individuals and corporate/commercial companies outside the music industry."
            As well as hosting lunches, more than 600 appeal letters have been mailed to a variety of people and concerns who wouldn't necessarily go to a lunch but still might wish to donate. One such letter, from Paul, went to Her Majesty the Queen - who responded magnificently with a donation from her own personal account. Protocol dictates that the amount of the royal donation cannot be disclosed, however the prestige m receiving a cheque headed 'Buckingham Palace', and for a project still in the throes of being completed, is great indeed, not least in the form of terrific publicity.
            But no one whose dream is making LIPA a reality is losing sight of the fact that the venture is for everyday people, everywhere. Mark is therefore more than happy to report that he is receiving "continual responses from people around the world who describe themselves as 'regular folk', people who want to give something back, to Paul or to the Beatles.
            "For example, one American woman, whose husband, a Beatles fan, has died, sees LIPA as a marvellous way to have a 'memorial' in his name, and in Liverpool, the city he loved, by having a scat in the auditorium in his name. Slowly but surely name-plates on all the auditorium seats (£50) and the stair-treads (£100) are being sold."
            But not everything can wait until all of the capital investment is in place. The original roof of the Liverpool Institute - in such disrepair that a heavy downpour caused flooding inside the building - was removed in November; by the spring, once the timbers have dried out, it will be replaced.
            In the meantime, architects will be drawing up a physical vision of what, until now, has been only a mind-design, following which the long rigmarole of planning applications will begin. "All being well," says Mark, "we should be on site in August 1993. That will be when we start our work on the building."
            The result of all this hard labour will be evident in September 1995, when LIPA welcomes its first students, be they full-time (three years), part-time or "distance-learners" (that is, people receiving material through the mail).
            The year of 1992 has seen much progress in the academic area too. "We've decided that there should be a common core course," says Mark, "so that whatever specialised subject someone decides to do, during their time with us they'll have to also study the common core areas, which will be a spectrum of industry-related subjects. There arc 300 job categories in the performing arts. It employs over half a million people in the UK alone. Our aim will be to produce quality personnel for all of these areas.
            "One of the reasons we've received the support that we have is that LIPA is a charity. Another reason, of course, is that Paul McCartney is so closely involved. Apart from anything else, people are realising that it's never before happened that someone of his stature - let's face it: he's the guy who, along with three others, made the British music industry what it is - is prepared to devote so much for the future. And, of course, he still plans to be personally involved in some of the courses too."
            So that was 1992. The coming year promises considerably more action too, for the current plan is that Paul will make LIPA a focus of the forthcoming world tour, with a number of schemes in development which should appeal to his audiences.
            A year ago Club Sandwich reported "Paul's so-called Fame school is going to be done properly".
            Turns out that was quite an understatement!

Club Sandwich 64