Sparks set to fly for dynamic duo

BRIGHT SPARKS ... Sara Conroy, left, and Rachael Neilson, of Spark Performing Arts, have received help from Tedco
BRIGHT SPARKS ... Sara Conroy, left, and Rachael Neilson, of Spark Performing Arts, have received help from Tedco

TWO South Tyneside women plan to make a real drama out of their business careers.

Rachael Neilson and Sara Conroy have obtained a start-up loan to launch Spark Performing Arts.

And with more students enrolling for their dance, singing and acting sessions, the theatrical venture looks set to become a commercial box office hit.

Rachael, 20, and Sara, 22, both from South Shields, received expert advice from borough enterprise agency Tedco, and attended business start-up seminars before launching their stage group.

Rachael said: “Sara and I have been good friends for a long time and worked for another performing arts group in the area.

“But it was always our dream to run our own performing arts group. We have received a lot of help from Tedco, and business adviser Bill Hartshorne helped us put together an in-depth business plan.

“We were also delighted to be awarded a low-interest loan of £1,500, which is available to people aged 18 to 30, and we will use the money to cover things like start-up costs and insurance.

“Sara and I see the business as developing and growing and we would hope to eventually employ people in the future.”

With weekly classes already launched at Trinity House, Laygate, South Shields, the new business duo aim to reach out to more and more young would-be performers across South Tyneside.

Spark Performing Arts is working towards staging its first show this summer.

Although currently teaching children, aged seven to 12, the performing business pals aim to also pass on their performing arts skills to toddlers.

Rachael added: “We were amazed at how quickly the start-up grant came through and the business seminars we attended through Tedco were very useful.

“I’m still working part-time and Sara is on maternity leave after having a baby eight months ago, while also finishing a degree, but she’s something of a super-woman and is still managing to run the classes with me.

“To anyone considering trying self-employment, I would say, ‘Just go for it!

“We aim to get Spark into local schools and build the business up over the next year.”

For more details about Spark Performing Arts, call Sara on 07837 298 516, Rachael on 07504 980 390, e-mail sparkperformingarts@gmail or visit

Twitter: @terrykelly16