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Sage Gateshead



Posted on 2 June 2020

Sage Gateshead - Photo Credit David Tiernan

A Future for Live Music in the North East- Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance

Today (June 2, 2020) Sage Gateshead launches an ambitious three-year ‘Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance’ fundraising campaign, with the intention of raising £3 million to help it survive and prosper in the face of COVID-19.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director, said: “Our aim is to raise £1 million a year over three years to help us handle the crisis, recover and flourish anew. We want to be able to continue to make a significant social and economic contribution to the region.”

The charity reports that it is seeing increased levels of need from across the communities in which it works, with more people than ever facing social isolation, struggling with their mental or physical health, missing out on their musical education, or simply craving the incomparable magic of live music. The Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance campaign aims to ensure Sage Gateshead remains able to meet these needs, now and into the future.

Abigail said: “This campaign will come in three phases. Phase one will help us to respond to the imminent crisis. Phase two will help us to recover from it. Phase three will focus on renaissance. Despite the enormous challenges we face, it is this renaissance that everyone at Sage Gateshead is working towards, because we believe our audiences and the wider communities in which we work deserve nothing less.”

The first phase of the campaign is focussed on the crucial action needed to see the organisation through the immediate crisis. Fundraising from a broad range of sources to help overcome the economic shock of Covid-19, work includes moving the organisation’s creative learning work online, safeguarding its iconic building for communities, and supporting its orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The second phase will focus on supporting its audiences and the communities in which it works, including the adaptation of performances and Make Music classes, improving the lives of young people through its music learning programme, and creating new musical activity to improve mental health and wellbeing.

The final phase of the campaign will focus on the development of new activity, with great ambition for music education, original projects with the world’s greatest musicians, and supporting the next generation of musicians from the North to musically thrive.

Due to the extraordinary generosity of their audience and donors the internationally recognised concert hall and music centre has already raised over £100,000 since the onset on the pandemic. These donations now form the foundation of their Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance Campaign. However, there is still a long fundraising effort ahead.

The COVID-19 pandemic will result in the charity losing £7 million in income between April and December 2020, which represents 50% of the organisation’s annual income. 60% of Sage Gateshead’s income comes from concerts, classes and events – this income stopped overnight. A further 20% of their income will be significantly impacted by this crisis.

Sage Gateshead would usually present around 400 events and several festivals to a live audience of 350,000 each year. It is home to the acclaimed orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia. Each year the charity supports over 100 musicians through its artist development programme and works with 30,000 children and young people and 20,000 adults through its music education programme. As a result of COVID-19, all of this is now at risk.

Abigail added: “Once Sage Gateshead is able to reopen, our income will be very significantly reduced. Adapting our building, music education work and performance format will be costly, and our income will be much lower. This fundraising campaign is about providing for our audiences and the wider community.”

Abigail added: “We are an organisation with a vision, and part of our campaign, ‘A Future for Live Music in the North East,’ is about talking to our audiences and communities about what they think the future of music and of Sage Gateshead should look like. By supporting our campaign, and participating in these conversations, our supporters will help us to realise new ambitions after our recovery; using music to improve the lives of people living in the North East.”

For more information click here.


Notes to Editors

  • Since opening 15 years ago, Sage Gateshead has worked side by side with partners and the wider community to help address the complex blend of social and economic challenges the region faces.
  • Sage Gateshead is a major employer of 500 people, and has brought investment and tourism into the region, generating c. £500 million contribution to the local economy.
  • More importantly, Sage Gateshead has brought social, cultural and educational value to over 10 million people and millions more via digital and broadcast activity.
  • Since March, Sage Gateshead has been proactive in cutting costs whilst continuing to protect jobs and ensure its iconic building remains safe.
  • It has also accessed schemes including the coronavirus job retention scheme (90% of its 500 staff are furloughed); has received rate relief and tax deferral; and has converted project grants to core.
  • The North East region is one of the worst affected by Covid-19. The region will be one where the recovery is slow and hard. Arts and culture have a pivotal role to play in regional and nation-wide recovery.

For further information, interviews or images please contact:

Emily Taylor, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

  1. E. T. 0191 443 4617 M. 07793 762 879


Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.

We are a charity and rely on the support of donors to ensure everyone in the North East community can experience the joy of music.

Every year we welcome more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.

The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals.

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.