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“We’ve built our own community within a community”

“We’ve built our own community within a community”

On St David’s Day, Stagecoach Performing Arts celebrates the success of its Welsh franchisees

Children’s services franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts, operates weekly singing, dancing and acting sessions in Swansea, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare in Wales. Whilst nurturing the musical talent of tomorrow, Welsh franchisees are building their own community and have big plans for growth in 2021 and beyond.

Former project manager for the United Dance Organisation, Kate Davies, took over as franchisee and principal of Stagecoach Performing Arts in Cardiff in December 2019. Born and bred in the area, Kate always knew she wanted to put her experience to good use by owning a franchise that was close to home.

“I’ve been a real champion of Stagecoach across South Wales since my early 20s, having taught at or managed schools in Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Caerphilly and even Cardiff,” explained Kate. “Now, aged 37 and with a daughter of my own, I’m more passionate than ever about inspiring the next generation of Welsh performers and equipping my students with opportunities I would have loved at their age. As well as being contacted by The Voice, about our students auditioning, early last year, children have taken part in West End style workshops and performed at theatres around the country. My singing teacher, Siwan Henderson, has also performed in the West End and is part of the “Welsh of the West End” group – she’s a real inspiration to the students. Wales is a hub of incredible vocal talent and I’m very excited to see where my students go in the future.

“There’s a real demand for quality performing arts sessions for kids in Cardiff so my plan is, once the lockdown is lifted, to eventually open more schools within my area and bring a manager in to run them. It’s not just the incredible standard of talent in my students that impresses me but my teachers too. As well as nurturing our students to have confidence in their own abilities, they shadow me in a bid to understand the inner workings of operating a Stagecoach franchise. With their support and the support of the other Welsh franchisees - with who I’ve built a fantastic relationship - we’re really affirming our value as part of the international network.”

A little over 25 miles away, in the busy town of Merthyr Tydfil, is franchisee and principal Heidi Rees. Like Kate, Heidi took on an existing business, signing her franchise agreement in October 2018. Heidi and Kate, who had worked together for years before both joined the franchise network, regularly collaborate on projects and look to each other for ongoing support.

“I own schools in Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil and, since late last year, Aberdare,” said Heidi. “I’m so proud of all of my locations and students but my Aberdare school holds a very special place in my heart, having grown up in the small town and discovering my passion for performance there. Back in the 90s, there was nothing like Stagecoach in Aberdare and, although I had a great time at a nearby community performing arts school, it just didn’t offer the opportunities I would have had with Stagecoach. I’ve travelled the world working as a teacher with Stagecoach, whilst also working as a professional actress in places like Disneyland Paris, but there’s been nothing quite like coming home to Aberdare and starting my own school. I’ve even been able to offer my students the incredible opportunities I craved as a child, including workshops with West End performers and a group trip to perform at my old stomping ground, Disneyland, in 2022.

“With the support of local franchisees, like Kate, we’ve built our own community within a community. We’re really flying the flag for Stagecoach across the Welsh Valleys and St David’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate our success!”

Andy Knights, COO, is proud to champion the accomplishments of the brand’s Welsh franchisees. He said: “Kate, Heidi and the rest of our franchisees across Wales are a force to be reckoned with. Over the course of the last 12 months, in particular, I’ve seen them rally together and work collectively to maintain our standing as the country’s most trusted provider of children’s performing arts sessions. Here’s to more growth and success in 2021 – and the next Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey coming from Stagecoach!”

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