Rare talent on display

By Andy Green

RARE Studio held their 2018 showcase at the Liverpool Echo Arena Auditorium at the weekend and it was an incredible display of talent. It was non-stop, bang, bang, bang – talent, talent, talent!

With performers ranging in age from 3 to 18 they produced a mesmerising show that included spectacular dance, a superb choir and solo singers and excellent spoken word pieces. It couldn’t be faulted.

Rare Studio was started in 2011 by Michelle Faulkner and Lindsay Inglesby, after working together at LIPA on widening access projects and realising there were very few opportunities for young people to progress in performing arts if they are from low income backgrounds.

They set out to create a school that was based on the ability of the student, not the ability to pay. All students are means tested and they look at family circumstances to set fees that are affordable.

Michelle and Lindsay are from very different backgrounds as Michelle explains: “I have a degree in business and a masters in social justice so I come at it from the social justice, charity and business angle and provide all the management support. Lindsay was head of foundation dance at LIPA for several years and before that had a career in choreography and dance. She still works now as a professional choreographer. She provides the creative side. She tells me what we need to do and I make it happen and pay for it! We are a perfect partnership as we have very different skills.”

Michelle & Lindsay

The pair also started Rare School of Fashion in 2015 after Lindsay’s cousin Shaun Kearney, a successful fashion designer in the US, saw what they were doing in performing arts and wanted them to meet a need for the fashion industry too. There they provide a fully funded level 3 BTEC in fashion and a means tested 2-year intensive course for over 18s.

One of the things that probably sets Rare apart from other schools is the amazing opportunities and financial support they give to their students. Michelle reels off a list:

“We have sent 3 students so far to Broadway Dance Center in NYC for 6 months to train, we pay for full fees, flights, travel and visas. We have another 2 going in October and 2 who won on Sunday night will go in early 2019

“We have sent 4 students for LA to train for 6 weeks in studios over there fully funded accommodation, flights, travel and classes

“We have sent 2 students to LA for 6 weeks fully funded to record an EP in a Hollywood hills studio

“We have sent 4 students to NYC for 6 weeks to train fully funded with accommodation, classes, fees etc

“We have supported 10 students on a monthly basis with living costs whilst they are at drama school in London and we are now supporting another 4

“We have funded one student during her experience at National Youth Theatre Rep

“We have funded two students to progress their career as professional dancers in London, including paying for a photo shoot

“We provide bus passes for 10 students each year

“We provide support for auditions and travel costs to auditions

“We provide free counselling services to any student

“We have a general hardship fund for anyone struggling, with paying for anything

“We offer scholarships for students to go to NYC for one week on our annual school trip.

“We funded with the support of Fabletics for 3 students from fashion to intern in LA for 6 weeks”

Wow! With 80 full-time and over 120 part-time students, Michelle and Lindsay are providing plenty of opportunities for local young people to work towards their dream. And they’re not stopping there. They plan to extend their hardship and scholarship funds to support current students and they’ve also signed a lease on a second building. They are currently raising funds to redevelop the space with a plan to create a hub for performing arts.

Liverpool is particularly blessed when it comes to the creative arts and with Rare Studio and Rare School of Fashion there’s a perfect environment to nurture that talent and see it reach its full potential.

Rare indeed.