The latest Q&A in our Meet the Boss series catches up with James Aconley who is principal at PQA (Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts) in York, Scarborough, Beverley & Hull

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?

I’ve got the perfect job, but if I had to choose something else, I trained in theatre and there is still a very small part of me who wants to be a performer. When I go and see a show I think,‘I’d still secretly quite like to do that’. To be honest I still do get the opportunity to perform very occasionally, which is a nice treat – but nothing quite beats working with young performers to help them achieve their own goals in the performing arts.

Greatest achievement?

I think my greatest professional achievement has to be setting up PQA, however seeing each and every child develop – either in performing arts skills or in life skills such as confidence and social skills – is a mini achievement in itself. I started PQA six-and-a-half years ago before I had even graduated from university. I think I was a bit mad but it certainly paid off.

What makes you most angry?

The thing that makes me most angry is the lack of opportunities and funding available for the arts, particularly in education and arts for young people.

The number of parents who I speak to who just don’t know what to do because their child can’t do their chosen performing arts-related qualifications, or their child doesn’t fit in well in more traditional academic subjects, is quite unbelievable.

The life skills beyond the performance skills which children develop when exploring drama, music and the arts is so valuable. I’m proud that we can continue to give young people this opportunity.

Biggest mistake?

My biggest mistake is always taking on too much! Like many business owners and creatives I just don’t know when to stop and say no. I think it’s because I absolutely love what I do, but it is important to take some time out.

What do you need to make life complete?

Quality time with my wife, my friends, my family and my dog! Oh – and good food and lots of trips to the theatre!

Why do you make a difference?

I honestly believe that my team and I make a difference to the lives of the children and young people who come to our academy.

Whether they attend because they want to go into the performing arts, or to build confidence and social skills, or just for something fun to do on a Saturday, we are changing the lives of those young people and giving them experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

*If you would like to be featured in our Meet the Boss series, please email your answers (400-430 words) to our Business Editor Nadia Jefferson-Brown at