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How can changing our name be a good thing?

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Last week we asked people to help us as we find a new name and visual identity. We’re heading towards an exciting new chapter for the charity, as we approach our 20th anniversary. We know we need to make a change because the site next door to us is being developed with a new arena and convention centre and it will be known as The Sage.

Thanks to investment from Sage Group for naming rights, this development is one step closer to being realised. It’s a big deal – and the culmination of almost half a century’s work.

Forty years ago, a vision for the development of the Gateshead quayside began to take shape. With an iconic bridge, the UK’s biggest contemporary art space outside of London, and one of the biggest music charities in the country, the site already has international stature. Pictures of the quayside appear as a calling card for Newcastle Gateshead across the world. Just as the Sydney Opera House is the city’s signifier, the bridge and these two cultural buildings – one historic, one boldly 21st century – put the city on the map.

But there was a gap – both in the pictures and in the vision – an undeveloped part of the site which is now set to be completed. With the arrival of the new arena and convention centre, Gateshead Quays will be a unique destination in the UK.  It will be a South Bank here in the north – a place of culture, education, leisure, entertainment, digital development and business. As well as a wide range of events and activities happening, it will be a place to hang out with family and friends and a go-to destination for visitors to the region.

Our building will be in a transformed physical environment – no longer an island. It will be a new era. We’ll maintain our relationship with Sage Group in a different format and our new name and identity will signal a new chapter.

We are Sage Gateshead – but times change.

As we approach our 20th birthday in 2024, this will be a new chapter.

Coming out of the pandemic we have big ambitions to serve our communities and our young people, to make music which is of the North, to bring the world’s best to our audiences and to champion the brilliant Royal Northern Sinfonia. A new name and identity will express more clearly the range of things we offer music lovers and music makers.

We are most famous for our building, but we work across Gateshead and Newcastle. And we serve the whole region – our orchestra, our creative learning activity, our support of musicians happens in Cumbria, all the way up to the Scottish border, down in Teesside and all along  the coast. This will become ever more important as we work  to reach as many people as possible.

Our community is speaking into our name change process

We’re talking to people about our new name and identity and people are sharing their memories of the charity and of music – times they heard something which was out of this world or which they had waited for years. They’re telling us about times they learnt a new skill and achieved something they never thought they would. We’re hearing about times they celebrated a milestone with people they love, or met new people, even  the love of their life.

People are telling us about spending time with us to stave off isolation or loneliness; where music has contributed to their recovery from illness .Lots of people are describing times one of our events  ticked something off their bucket list.

Our activity and music more generally mean different things to different people, but the two most common things which people talk about is that music creates memories for them and it is part of their wellbeing.

These memories are about experiences and feelings – we associate them with a name, but they are created through the activity we experience. And what we experience won’t change – we’ll still bring the best international musicians in the region, showcase the region’s up and coming bands, present the best chamber orchestra in the UK, support tens of thousands of young people as musicians, provide classes for adults and families, run festivals, create digital content. We’ll still be for anyone – catering for all musical tastes, all ages and with free and pay what you decide across our activity, so that price isn’t a barrier. We’ll still be based in our Foster + Partners building – known around the world as having one of the best acoustics anywhere – and we’ll work across the region. We’ll be live and online.

Have your say about our past, our present and our future

We’re continuing to gather memories and thoughts to inform our name change process, and the new name and visual identity we’ll have.  There’s still time to have your say at sagegateshead.com/changes or via #sgchanges.

Help us shape a new chapter and continue creating memories.