New era for Sage Gateshead announced ahead of the 14th SummerTyne Americana Festival.
“I’m delighted to hear that Sage Gateshead has been successful in this bid. Sage One is a special room to play and I have some wonderful memories performing there. This new project should provide an even more dynamic live experience for both the artist and audience.” – Sting
A bespoke seating system, which will enable the quick removal of seats to create space for a part standing audience, has been given the go-ahead at renowned music venue Sage Gateshead.
The major project has been made possible thanks to £1.2 million from National Lottery funding through Arts Council England’s capital programme. This has been matched by generous donations of £800,000 from individuals and trusts from the North East and across the country.
The £2 million project will allow the installation of a new seat mechanism, which has never been used anywhere else before, giving the North East venue the flexibility to provide standing space on level one of their main concert hall (Sage One) – beyond the existing standing pit – as well as continuing to offer the option of a fully seated hall. The system will also enable the seats to be put back in again at speed.
Removal of the seats has only been done twice before at Sage Gateshead, once for MS Life Conference and again for BBC 6 Music Festival, taking up hours of labour by a large workforce, but loved by fans of the bands who played there including Maximo Park, Royal Blood, Hot Chip and The Charlatans.
Once the seats are removed, the capacity of the hall will increase from a current maximum of 1650 to 2000, allowing the venue to add to its already diverse programme, including more indie, dance and prom style performances.
In addition to adapting the seating in Sage One, the project will also include a major refurbishment of the building’s iconic concourse – a focal point for many festivals, free events and a place to relax, play and work. The concourse is open to the public seven days a week throughout the day and the aim is to improve facilities so that even more people can use the building each year.
The Arts Council’s capital funding is intended to support organisations to develop their buildings and facilities in order to produce and present outstanding work. Widely regarded as a ‘performers’ venue,’ thanks to the quality of the acoustics, the news of a forthcoming ‘seats out’ option will not only achieve this goal, it has also been met with excitement within artist circles.