Sage Gateshead has contributed £283m to regional economy

An independent survey shows that Sage Gateshead has contributed more to the region than it has cost to build or run

Lord Falconer
Lord Falconer

The iconic Sage Gateshead music centre has contributed more than £283m to the regional economy during its ten years of operation.

This is the finding of an independent survey commissioned by the Sage from ERS Research & Consultancy.

The survey, originally commissioned in 2009 to evaluate the Sage’s first five years, has been updated to reflect the situation at the end of its first decade.

“When we began this journey, one thing was extremely important to us – that we would irrigate, not drain the local economy,” said Anthony Sargent, Sage Gateshead’s general director.

“I’m extremely happy now to have the evidence to show we’ve done just that.

Anthony Sargent, General Director of Sage Gateshead
Anthony Sargent, General Director of Sage Gateshead

“To have provided the region with jobs, opportunities and income on this scale – on top of all our artistic, educational and social contributions – is something we’re immensely proud of.”

The exact figure of £283.6m, he said, was 2.8 times the combined capital cost of the building and the public revenue invested in it over the past ten years.

At this week’s annual general meeting, Sage chairman Lord Falconer said a successful bid to Arts Council England for continued revenue support as one of its National Portfolio organisations guaranteed funding from that source up until 2018 – “an incredible building block for the continued wellbeing of Sage Gateshead”.

He thanked Gateshead Council, “our founding parent and long time supporter”, for “consistently keeping faith with us despite the difficulties they’ve faced as an authority in the present financial climate”.

Sustainability for the future, he added, was “top of all our agendas”.

He thanked local foundations – including Stuart Halbert, Vardy and Barbour – for contributing to a £6m 10th Birthday Endowment that would generate an annual income of £1m to support activities at Sage Gateshead.

He said: “We still have to raise £2m to trigger the remaining Arts Council funding that will be available until July 2015. We are absolutely focused on raising that last £2m.”

The Sage on its tenth birthday
The Sage on its tenth birthday

As part of a scheme to encourage private giving, Arts Council England will add 50% in match funding to every pound raised by Sage Gateshead during that period.

The ERS survey shows that in the year 2013-14 Sage Gateshead employed 165 full-time and 298 part-time staff compared with 168 and 205 in 2004-5.

In both cases the vast majority of employees lived in the North East and the biggest percentage in Gateshead and Newcastle.

Wages paid to Sage employees were estimated to have supported an additional 108 jobs in the region during the years 2009-14.

The survey estimates that Sage visitors from outside the region have contributed more than £18m to the economy in “associated audience expenditure”, such as hotel stays and meals out.

A further £20m has been injected through conferences at Sage Gateshead which brought business visitors to the region.

At the annual general meeting Lord Falconer announced that Abigail Pogson, currently chief executive of London-based Spitalfields Music, would succeed Anthony Sargent as Sage Gateshead managing director in May next year.


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