Sage Gateshead – 10 years old on Wednesday – heads into its birthday celebrations and its second decade with a new boss-in-waiting, Yorkshire-born Abigail Pogson.
Ms Pogson, who will take up the post fully next May after a phased handover, is currently chief executive of Spitalfields Music, a London-based charity which runs two high profile festivals and a learning and participation programme.
Announcing the successor to founding director Anthony Sargent at the annual general meeting, Sage chairman Lord Falconer said: “I am delighted that Abigail Pogson will be joining us.
“I believe we have found someone who blends great musical and artistic integrity with an understanding of the founding principles of Sage Gateshead.
“As we celebrate the end of our first decade, and pay huge debt to all the work that Anthony Sargent has done in leading the organisation, we equally look forward to the renewed vision that Abigail will bring for the second decade.”
Mr Sargent, appointed to run the iconic music centre 15 years ago, before it had started to rise from the mud of Gateshead’s Bottle Bank and long before it had a name, styled himself general director.
Ms Pogson, who will be managing director, said it was an honour to be joining Sage Gateshead, which has two concert halls, an education centre and a resident orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia.
“The mix of an iconic building, a brilliant chamber orchestra, a world-leading traditional music programme and an education programme which international colleagues constantly look to for inspiration is absolutely unique.
“It is also an honour to pick up from such a brilliant leadership team which Sage Gateshead has had for its first decade and to join such a dedicated staff and board. I am hugely looking forward to joining the organisation.
“Sage Gateshead’s founding mission and what it has achieved in its first 10 years are utterly inspiring, providing a phenomenal legacy on which to build.
“I look forward to ensuring that as many people as possible can be part of Sage Gateshead and that we can make an important contribution to both the quality of life in the North East and its reputation more widely, in the UK and the world.”
Mr Sargent also expressed delight at the appointment.
“Knowing and greatly admiring Abigail’s work – her high cultural values, her piercing intelligence and her motivational leadership style – I am very confident that under Abigail Sage Gateshead’s second decade will be full of exciting new programming developments and discoveries,” he said.
Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry, who sits on the music centre board, said: “We’re very proud of Sage Gateshead’s success over the last 10 years and its impact on our local communities.
“Having a world class music venue, with a longstanding education programme, has brought both cultural and economic benefits to Gateshead and the wider region.
“Abigail’s appointment as managing director, with her wealth of skills and experience, should provide an exciting opportunity to build on Sage Gateshead’s impressive reputation locally, nationally and internationally.”
Abigail Pogson, who is 40, studied modern and Medieval languages at Cambridge University and then gained an MA in cultural management at London’s City University.
Her career has been spent in the arts, including spells with English National Opera, Music Theatre Wales and the Society for the Promotion of New Music.
From 2007-8 she was a fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme which aims to strengthen leadership across the cultural and creative sectors.
Spitalfields Music, based in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, traces its origins to a classical music concert in 1976 organised as part of a campaign to save Christ Church, a historic church, from demolition.
The first official summer festival took place the following year and an education programme was launched in 1989.
In 1996 a winter festival was added to complement the now popular summer festival.
This year’s winter festival, offering a mix of early and contemporary music for all ages across a range of venues, officially ends on Tuesday – just as Beverley Knight is due to take to the stage to begin Sage Gateshead’s week of anniversary concerts and events.
Sage Gateshead opened officially on December 17, 2004 with a series of taster concerts.
The building, which was designed by Foster and Partners and cost £70m, will come alive on Wednesday, exactly one year on, with a Now We Are Ten concert and a funfair theme throughout the building.