Sage Gateshead Photo Credit David Tiernan

Sage Gateshead has launched an ambitious three-year ‘Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance’ fundraising campaign, with the intention of raising £3m to help it survive and prosper in the face of COVID-19.

Abigail Pogson, managing director, said: “Our aim is to raise £1m 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 ambitions 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 £7m 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 its 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.

“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.”

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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