Former Prefab Sprout singer Wendy Smith has been announced as Sage Gateshead’s new director of learning and participation.
The news came from new managing director of the venue, Abigail Pogson on her first day in the job.
Having worked in senior positions within the incredibly busy learning and participation team at Sage Gateshead for the past 12 years, Middlesbrough-born Wendy has enjoyed having particular responsibility for innovation and partnerships, as well as the highly successful In Harmony Newcastle Gateshead programme at Hawthorn Primary School in Elswick. She will officially take up her new position in August.
“I am absolutely committed to the North East and its musical life. My life has been in music and I know that music can improve the health and well being, life chances and quality of life for people across the North East and beyond,” said Wendy, who made up part of the much-loved North East band - best known for singles King of Rock and Roll and When Love Breaks Down - from 1988 until 2000.
“We want to inspire people to have a love of music and I am looking forward to working with Abigail to shape a programme that everyone can feel part of. Building on the success of the last decade, I look forward to working with our learning and participation team, programme directors, Royal Northern Sinfonia and our many partners to create vibrant and diverse musical and social opportunities for people in Gateshead and the wider region.”
Abigail, who took over from founding general director, Anthony Sargent this week, added: “During its first decade Sage Gateshead has had Learning and Participation at the heart of its mission and has become a byword for excellence in this field. As we enter the second decade, I am committed to ensuring that this remains the case - Sage Gateshead is a creative resource for Gateshead and the region and we will continue to strive to make music available to as many people as possible.
“Our learning and participation programme is central to this. Wendy’s vision for the next phase of our life is built on her experience as a musician and as a local as well as her passionate commitment to the power of music to change lives and aspirations and her belief that this can be best achieved in partnership with others.
“I am looking forward to working with her, with our many partners and with programme colleagues to shape the programme for the coming phase of the charity’s life.”