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The Glasshouse


Posted on 24 September 2020



Sage Gateshead launches its 20/21 season of online activity alongside a return to live performances this October with a seven-week series of concerts for everyone.

‘Sage Live 2020’ kicks off on Friday 23rd October, welcoming audiences back to the venue for the first time since March. There will be two concerts a week (on Fridays and Saturdays) featuring Royal Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of Sage Gateshead, and contemporary music from across genres by a range of artists.

The safety of audiences, artists and staff will be the top priority at the international music centre. Concerts will be in the main hall, Sage One, seating 300 of the 1700 seats available so that everyone can be accommodated in a socially distanced way.

Further information about these live performances, including artists and dates, will be announced on 6 October. To make the performances accessible to all, the live performances will also be streamed live from the venue.

The news comes as Sage Gateshead launches its 20/21 season of online activity, which includes Make Music – its weekly programme of adult music classes, its Young People’s Programme, musical activity for over 10,000 young people and its artist development programme, supporting musicians from across the region. Usually this activity would take place in the world-famous music centre and now it has moved online, to ensure that people across the North can continue their music making as we head into the winter months.

Going on sale today is Make Music. Taking place for the first time online, is a new range of Sage Gateshead’s popular online classes, which will include daytime and evening singing and instrumental sessions. These classes will be relaxed, fun and suitable for singers and players of varying ability from beginners to those who fancy a bit more of a challenge.  The new online music classes are now on sale with the term starting on Monday 5th October.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “We have had a wonderful response to our A Future for Live Music in the North East conversation with audiences, in which the passion of so many for music and live performances shone through really bringing home the gap left in so many lives over the last few months.

“Our 20/21 season is largely online and we’re delighted that we’re able to offer so much of our activity in this way. Of course we also can’t wait to return to live activity, not least live performances, so I am thrilled we are able to announce this new series today.  In planning this live performance series, we have made the safety of our audiences, artists and staff our top priority. Our decision to go ahead with live performance was made after careful, detailed planning to ensure we can operate in a COVID-secure way. Of course, yet further restrictions are possible, locally or nationally. If that happens, audiences will always be offered a full refund and the alternative of watching the performance as a live stream.”

During lockdown Sage Gateshead launched a major three-year fundraising campaign to raise £3 million in response to the urgent financial challenge posed by Covid-19, as 80% of the charity’s income has been affected by the crisis, 60% of it stopping completely.

Abigail Pogson, added: “This year has changed all of our lives. Our families, friendships, workplaces, schools, and communities have been through a period of extraordinary challenge and upheaval. 2020 also threatened the very survival of live music as we know it.

“We cannot wait to welcome our audiences back. Sage Live 2020 will be for everyone, whether you’re a music lover visiting us for the first time or someone who already knows and loves Sage Gateshead.

“Our 7-week series will feature the region’s orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, performing works that will remind us why live classical music is so special. They cannot wait to play together again as an orchestra. In our contemporary programme, we’ll present brilliant artists from across genres – familiar names and new talent.  We’ll aim to bring you the best of Sage Gateshead and something new, all with everyone’s safety at the fore.

“To get us to this point many people have generously donated tickets, memberships or cash. This is helping us to survive and to run online programmes There’s still significant money to raise, but we would simply not be here without this support. With safety at the front of our minds, we will start in a modest way so that we can navigate steadily through the coming months, and hopefully grow our live programme through the year.

“We have heard resoundingly from people during lockdown that music can make our lives better and we are determined that Sage Gateshead – despite the significant financial and logistical challenges which Covid 19 brings for us – will play a role in our region’s life through and in recovery from the pandemic.”



For further information, interviews or images please contact:
Jackie Thompson, Marketing & Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead


Notes to Editors

  • Covid-19 presents a major financial challenge to Sage Gateshead, the iconic Foster + Partners designed NE landmark.  80% of its income has been affected, and in 2020-21 £10 million in revenue will be lost. The organisation has taken swift action to overcome this crisis but further challenges lie ahead. 90% of the workforce has been on furlough, significant cost savings have been sought and found, and its fundraising campaign aims to raise £3 million to help secure the organisation during the next three years. However, income levels are likely to be drastically reduced well into next year, and so the charity is redoubling its fundraising efforts.
  • 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 continues to be major employer 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.
  • Last year Sage Gateshead attracted 2 million visitors; 5,000 people took part in weekly music classes; 17,854 school children experienced live orchestral music and we worked with a further 2,418 vulnerable young people; more than 2,000 adults a week took part in music making designed to tackle social isolation.
  • 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.
  • Arts and Culture in the North East had a turnover of £400 million, providing employment for 2,450 people in 2016 (last year for which figures are available)
  • Performing arts accounted for 33% (i.e. >£133 million) and 700 jobs
  • Gross Value Added of arts and culture sector to the NE is £203 million


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.