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Transformation of Sage Gateshead

Posted on 17 January 2020

Sage press pic 3

Work is well under way on Sage Gateshead’s iconic concourse, transforming the ‘town square’ of the venue into an even more welcoming and enjoyable space for visitors.

The Box Office, bars, Brasserie and café will be refurbished, and a new private dining area will be created as well as pop up retail stands.

It is part of a £2 million capital programme that will also enable more part-standing gigs in Sage One, thanks to a new, quick-release seat system that will be installed later this year.

Managing Director Abigail Pogson said it was the first major refurbishment to take place since the building opened in 2004. 

“As we celebrate our fifteenth year we want to reach more people and create more opportunities for a wider range of people,” she said. 

“We want to ensure music is a central part of life and that access to arts and culture is part of life in the North East and part of the identity of Sage Gateshead. 

“We’re improving the spaces where people come to spend time before a concert or a class, to drop in for a coffee or to meet friends.  We’re going to upgrade audio in those spaces and put up digital screens so we can project and promote information about everything we have to offer. 

“Taking the seats out to allow us to programme regular, part-standing gigs means we can attract a totally different range of artists and give audiences a different experience. It will also mean greater capacity in the hall (up to 2,000 people) whilst still retaining that fantastic intimate vibe you get in Sage One. 

“Above all I hope that these improvements will mean more and more people want to use the building and connect with its work.”

Sage Gateshead was awarded £1.2 million in National Lottery funding through Arts Council England’s capital programme to enable the full project to go ahead.

This has been matched by generous donations and pledges of £800,000 from Gateshead Council, individuals, trusts and businesses from the North East and across the country, including The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, Barbour Foundation, The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Stuart Halbert Foundation, LNER Customer and Community Investment Fund (CCIF), Sir James Knott Trust and Wolfson Foundation, all recognising Sage Gateshead’s importance as the North’s leading centre for music.

North East firm Aptus Fit Out has undertaken the refurbishment. The full design team has included architects Howarth Litchfield and quantity surveyors Artis Consulting.

Sage Gateshead is open all year round and is free to visit, currently welcoming around 500,000 visitors a year. In the first phase of the work the Box Office will move from the East entrance to the West entrance. During this work there will be no disruption to customers visit to Sage Gateshead. Tickets can still be booked via our Box Office in person or on the telephone during our regular opening hours and customers can enter the building via the East and West entrances as usual and access to and from Sage Gateshead’s car park will remain unchanged.


Notes to editors: 

Sage Gateshead

We present around 400 events and festivals each year for a live audience of 350,000, 6 million people hear our work via stream or broadcast and 500,000 visit our building, often national and international visitors. Each year we support over 100 musicians through our artist development programme and we work with 30,000 children and young people and 20,000 adults in our creative learning programme.

We are home to the acclaimed Royal Northern Sinfonia as well as our popular, annual festivals SummerTyne Americana and Folk on the Tyne. We are dedicated to supporting emerging artists, as well as established names, offering residencies such as our Summer Studio and Folkworks Summer Schools.

Alongside our music performance and learning offer, our iconic building, designed by Foster & Partners, provides the perfect venue to over 100 conferences and events a year.

As a charity, the financial support we receive from Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, Arts Council England and our donors helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music. Positioned as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation, our continued ambition for the future is to work to significantly to increase the number and range of people connected with music.

In our first decade, our economic impact was £283 million. We are for audiences, for artists, for the North and for the long-term. Everything we do is guided by our values: Creative, Diverse, Focused, Leading, Responsible.

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.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is on a mission to transform rail travel for the customers and communities we serve. Our new modern Azuma fleet of trains will continue the LNER tradition of setting new, higher standards in comfort, reliability and customer experience. LNER calls at 53 stations along the East Coast route, totalling 936 miles including major towns and cities between London, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland.