Sage Gateshead is launching a name change campaign and here’s how to have your say
The world-class Sage Gateshead invites locals to share their views on his planned name change as he contemplates a new chapter and post-pandemic future.
As it approaches its 20th anniversary, the music center is taking on a new name to distinguish it from the adjacent new Sage Conference Center taking shape on Gateshead Quay and to encompass its role in the community, which it has reflected on at course of the pandemic. This Thursday, he reveals details of a campaign inviting members of the public to have their say on ideas for the venue and what that new name should be.
This and its new “visual identity” should be unveiled around September. The iconic music centre, designed by Norman Foster’s company, opened on the banks of the River Tyne in 2004 and takes its current name from The Sage Group, the local software company that is one of its patrons. The tech giant is now sponsoring the adjacent conference center and arena which is under construction, having struck a £10m naming rights deal.
Read more: Gateshead’s new conference center will be sponsored by Sage
With this ambitious new development now called The Sage when it opens in 2024, a re-title for the music center was essential to avoid confusion. “We all agreed it was the right thing to do,” said Sage Gateshead chief executive Abigail Pogson.
But it is also timely because, in the wake of the pandemic, the venue, a charity, is taking stock – like most cultural venues – and seeking to best meet needs in a changing world, while taking its place in what would become a much busier Gateshead Quays. Abigail had previously said there would be no public vote regarding the name – “no Sagey McSageface” as she put it, in reference to the humorous Boaty McBoatface who won a public vote to name a ship in 2016.
But people’s perspectives, memories of their Sage experiences, and ideas will all inform the final decision. Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, she added, “We will use all of this as inspiration to fuel the new name and new identity.
“A group of people within the organization and led by our Board of Directors hope to be able to announce this new name in early fall.” Details of the music hall’s new visual identity – including its logo – will follow in 2023, when the name will be integrated and become familiar, she said, and the Sage will prepare to play a part in a Gateshead Quays developed where new businesses will cluster to form a sparkling tourist destination.
And as the venue approaches its 20th year, the milestone will also be used “as a way to signal a new era”. This is an opportunity, she says, to affirm “who we are, how we want to be known and what we look like”.
Over the years, in which the Sage is estimated to have contributed half a billion pounds to the regional economy, he has attracted millions from across the North East and beyond with a program aimed at all ages and including a variety of classical music from concerts by its in-house Royal Northern Sinfonia orchestra to bands; children’s events and community choirs.
He also focuses on learning music and expanded his online offering during the Covid crisis when he also spoke to the local community about what they wanted from Sage and when it became clear how music can play an important role in our well-being. The pandemic shutdown saw the Sage take a huge financial hit and prompted the launch of a three-year fundraiser to put it back on a level playing field.
Alongside help from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, this crisis, recovery and rebirth campaign has received donations of thousands of pounds, meaning the Sage is now recovering and on track to reach their goal of £3million. Abigail said: “We are really, really overwhelmed and grateful for the support people have given us over the past few years – we just wouldn’t have been here without it and the support from the government.”
Tough decisions had to be made at the time to cut costs and while it’s not out of the way yet, the rest of the campaign should seal the deal. And now, with exciting new times ahead, she hopes as many people as possible will take part in the new #sgchanges campaign.
It will take place throughout the summer and will ask everyone who appreciates the Sage – audiences, artists and communities – to share their thoughts and ideas with memorabilia and photographs. When the new name is unveiled in the fall, The Sage will simultaneously unveil a new plan for music creation, in response to the past two years he has spent talking to communities about what live music means to them and how they see its future.
Of the new name, Abigail says, “I hope it sums up the range of what we do and what we mean to people.”
She added: “We are one of the most active music charities in the UK, with musical memories created, friendships forged and careers born in our iconic Foster + Partners building and in operation across the region. We want to immortalize our first 20 years and plan the next 20 together.
Those interested in taking part in the campaign can have their say by sharing content on an online Story Wall on the Sage’s website here or alternatively by visiting the building in person to leave a message on a postcard or by using the hashtag #sgchanges to add a video or photo message on social networks.