Blog: Something of a Lottery…
We’re very excited at Sage Gateshead because we’ve been shortlisted for the 25th Anniversary Awards for the National Lottery – the search for the most loved National Lottery project. We’re in the Arts, Culture & Film category alongside 9 other amazing organisation. Winning is being on a list with these other organisations – so different from each other and such a good survey of the kind of thing which the National Lottery has made possible.
That’s not to say we don’t love a prize at Sage Gatehead, but the real competition is how we can collectively make the most of lottery funds and ensure they benefit as many people as possible – inspiring people, improving quality of life and strengthening communities.
Since its introduction in 1994, the National Lottery has had a major impact on our collective lives and for many people it has impacted them individually. It has given £38 billion to good causes in those 25 years – this is approximately ¼ of the total lottery income. Which is to say for every £1 spent, 25 pence goes to a good cause. The point of the National Lottery Awards is to celebrate and make this visible, which they will certainly do. But the reality is that often the greatest value, the greatest ‘good’ is achieved by almost invisible causes. So for every visible charity, like Sage Gateshead, which gets celebrated through these awards, we should also cheer those who don’t attract or want attention.
To my view, the lottery has caused two important changes in its 25 years: firstly it has involved so many more people in donating to good causes – it has made philanthropists out of many of us. For every £1 we put in, 25 pence is going to a good cause. The millions who have bought tickets might not all otherwise donate to good causes and certainly wouldn’t donate to the wide range of things which our money goes towards supporting. The beauty of the system is that our 25 pence isn’t allocated and thus we support everything – for just 25 pence any individual in the UK can support all of the projects which the National Lottery has supported in 25 years!
Secondly it has aspired to reduce the lottery of birth and location, by, for example, helping community, sports, culture, heritage groups run activity and create things which benefit people in all corners of the country. So much of this activity is targeted in areas or for groups of people where there is less provision – where the system might be weaker and not doing what it should ideally for them or their area. Crucially, in lots of cases, it has allowed people to realise things they want to realise – to direct investment in a way which they decide.
In short, it has involved individuals in a new way in giving money to good causes and in spending money to make positive change – lots and lots of people are involved in it.
And of course thirdly, it is a source of hopes and dreams. Few of us ever win big, but buying a ticket causes us to think about what we’d do for ourselves and often for others, with a sudden windfall of money.
Sage Gateshead wouldn’t exist without the National Lottery. It was a significant contributor towards the construction costs of the building and money pledged from the National Lottery allowed the charity to persuade lots and lots of other funders to come in to ‘match donate’ in order to get to the total sum of money we needed – it inspired other trusts, individuals, companies to donate. We even have our name – from Sage plc – as a result of this motivation. A major donation by a giant North East company, which was so significant we linked ourselves in perpetuity through our name – all because the National Lottery was in place.
But of course, Sage Gateshead’s story isn’t about a building – it’s about everything which the charity has done and been involved in since the building opened in 2004. Each year it’s about the 500,000 people who visit us, the 350,000 who come to a concert, the 50,000 people who learn with us, the 100 emerging musicians we support…. And it’s about Brian whose participation in a regular music class in Deckham has reduced isolation and loneliness; Paul who suffered with addition, became unemployed and homeless and turned his life around by getting involved in music; Ken who has had a new lease of life by getting involved in music after a stroke and major heart surgery; Elena who, at 13, had massive anxiety and joined a singing group which has really made a difference to her anxiety; Sarah, who has cerebral palsy, undertook a music degree at Sage Gateshead and has just completed her first tour around the UK as a professional musician; Sue, who has been coming every week from Cumbria to listen to Royal Northern Sinfonia since 1977. And it’s about finally Alf (62) and Irene (67) who met and fell in love via a Sage Gateshead Rock & Roll Band!
Basically, it’s about people and positive change and making connections and making better places to live and visit.
So, here’s to another 25 years of National Lottery ticket buyers’ hopes and dreams, of philanthropy by the many and of activity which evens things out and leads to our country being a better place.
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