Footlights' latest franchisee discusses opening a franchise weeks before Lockdown

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Footlights’ newest franchisee discusses the challenge of opening a new franchise just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

When I took a drama teacher’s position with Footlights, 7 years ago, little did I know at the time just how much Footlights would change the whole course of my life.

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I’d been a jobbing actor, theatre director, writer and stand up comedian for many years before my Footlights journey began, so I had first hand experience of how complicated and overwhelming the performing arts industry could seem to young people who were interested in giving it a shot. Footlights have given me the opportunity to educate and inspire young people, and demystify the acting industry, allowing people from all walks of life the chance to experience performing arts, in a nurturing and supportive environment.

It wasn’t long before I made the decision to buy my own franchise with my wonderful business partner and fellow Footlights staff member, Jayne Doherty. On 25th January 2020, Footlights Huddersfield opened its doors, welcoming nearly 50 brand new students within the first month. We were making wonderful progress, building strong relationships with our clients and even working towards a mini show to celebrate our first term, when Covid 19 forced the country into lockdown.

It would have been easy to fall into despair over the situation, but as the old saying goes “the show must go on…” Under the careful leadership of our CEO Jo Fisher, Footlights ploughed on. We generated over 100 online classes across all our schools, my industry experience allowing me to create many myself, covering topics from puppetry to stand up comedy.

We are now embarking on live sessions with our students that will coincide with their regular class times, thus giving them some sense of normality in these very trying times.

The positivity, creativity, tenacity and sense of unity running through the heart of Footlights has kept us going throughout this unprecedented chapter, and will guarantee the continuation of our success once Covid 19 is a distant memory for us all.

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