As we recognise International Dance Day, Andy Knights, COO of the children’s services franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts, talks about the demand for children’s recreational and performing arts providers in Australia, and why the nation is currently falling short.

It would be fair to say that, over the course of the last 12 months, the way households manage their recreational time has shifted dramatically. Despite the positive signs that the nation seems to be coming out the other side of any long-term implications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more children than ever are turning to the familiarity of screen time to keep themselves busy – and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by parents.




A recent study has shown that parents’ biggest concerns about the impact of the pandemic for their children are a feeling of disconnection and reduced levels of physical activity1 – both of which they feel are caused, in the main, by an increased use of screens. In 2021, parents and schools would like to see children take part in more fun activities, including those that promote some form of physical movement – plus, importantly, the opportunity to establish friendships. So, with parents understandably keen to reintroduce their children to their usual routine and make up for any lost learning caused by school closures, it stands to reason that demand for after-school clubs and classes is high. But are the opportunities there for the taking?

Stagecoach Performing Arts has been delivering singing, dancing and acting sessions to children around the globe for over 30 years. When our first Australian franchise launched in Perth in 2000, there was a real need for down-to-earth training in the performing arts for young people in the area. Despite the fact that our brand was completely new to local families, enrolment was quickly filled during our first term.

Franchisee, Serena Kipling, then went on to launch her second Guildford school in 2005 and, in 2010, expanded for a third time, opening a school in Joondalup.

The reason that our model was so well received by students and their families in a relatively short amount of time is simple – Stagecoach provides a positive environment in which children can explore their own passions and gain confidence in their own abilities. Now, 21 years on from the launch of our first Australian franchise, the need for a creative and liberating outlet for young people is more apparent than it’s ever been.

Over the last year, our children have witnessed, first-hand, just how uncertain the future is. Some have missed school, seen family and loved ones losing jobs, and have had no choice but to forgo social occasions with friends that are so important during childhood and early teen years. For them, routine, familiarity and independence to explore their own passions will provide some sense of certainty. Studies have also proven that, by regularly attending interactive group activities, like our singing, dancing and acting sessions, a child’s ability to learn in a traditional schooling environment increases.”

Now that the risk of lockdown restrictions is at a much lower level than this time last year, parents also feel strongly that their children should be taking full advantage of social opportunities available to them. Sadly, without these opportunities, children of the COVID era are on track to become the least active and socially capable in recent history. Online learning, gaming and socialising may benefit children in terms of their digital aptitude, but hours spent staring into a monitor doesn’t necessarily promote the need for regular, interactive exercise, which we know to be so important in the early years of a child’s life.

At Stagecoach, we press the importance of children taking part in high-energy activities – specifically our weekly dance sessions – to improve overall health. According to the Australian health organisation, Better Health Channel2, dancing can improve muscle tone, strength, endurance, fitness and overall wellbeing. Our teachers will also tell you that dance provides an outlet for children to express themselves, whether they show skills in dancing or simply enjoy it.

As we celebrate International Dance Day, as a brand we are also taking the time to celebrate the whole host of benefits that come with our weekly dance sessions. Uptake of our programme is as high as it’s ever been and our students are revelling in the chance to do something they love, whilst spending time with their friends and gaining independence and confidence.

And whilst there are a whole host of local, regional and national providers of performing arts educators across Australia, there is still a long way to go to fulfil the demand that is so prevalent.

As a testament to the need for children’s fun and engaging after-school activities, Alison Tasker, owner of our Stagecoach Performing Arts franchise in Perth South, has launched a new territory, bringing Stagecoach to the busy suburb of South Fremantle. In addition, the latest Sydney franchise territory – for which Stagecoach is currently in the process of recruiting a franchisee – is already gaining a significant amount of interest. Prospects are keen to invest in trusted, established children’s services providers to fulfil this high-demand area.

My hopes for the future would be that children across Australia are openly encouraged to explore their passions – whatever they may be. But, unless recreational opportunities become more widely available to the approximately 4.7million3 children across the country, my fear is that Generation’s Z and Alpha will continue to rely on the convenience of social media, gaming and tech during their down-time, negatively impacting their overall health and wellbeing. It’s estimated that, by 2048, the number of children aged 0-14 will increase by 36%, to 6.4million. With this being the case, I would go as far as to say that now is the time to explore franchising opportunities in the children’s services sector. If not you, then who?

To find out more about franchise opportunities with Stagecoach Performing Arts, please visit




1 Camp Australia, 2020, Giving Children the Head Start they Need in Outside School Hours Care.

2 Better Health Channel, 2020, Dance – health benefits.

3 Australian Institute of Heath and Welfare, 2020, Australia’s children.



Andy Knights is Chief Operating Officer of global children’s performing arts franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts – a role he’s held since 2014.  He has over 20 years’ experience working in the franchising industry and oversees all aspects of business operations for the Stagecoach brand, including marketing, franchise recruitment and business development.