The Sage Gateshead has been handed a £1.8m Government lifeline to help it through the Covid-19 crisis.

The iconic music venue, on the bank of the River Tyne, has suffered a £10m decline in income during the pandemic, with 110 staff made redundant last month.

But as live music returned to the world-class for the first time since lockdown, it was revealed Sage Gateshead was one of 35 cultural organisations to receive a share of the Government's £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.

"This will help ensure Sage Gateshead’s survival to next spring and is an investment in our region’s economic and social recovery, to which arts and culture are vital," said Sage Gateshead Managing Director, Abigail Pogson.

But after a horrendous year for the arts, she admitted the grant alone won't be enough to guarantee the beloved venue's future.

“We have lost £10 million of income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and we have done everything we can to cut costs and to raise funds," she added.

"The size of the grant reflects the scale of the challenge we face. We have to raise a further £700,000 this year through our own efforts to ensure that we can continue to deliver high quality live music and life-enhancing education and participation to communities across the North East.”

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of the Sage Gateshead
Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of the Sage Gateshead

However Friday marked a major milestone on Sage Gateshead's road to recovery, as it reopened for a seven week series of live peformances - the first since the doors were closed back in March.

The shows will feature the Royal Northern Sinfonia on Fridays and a series of contemporary musicians from a range of genres on Saturdays. The shows are also being streamed online.

Pre-pandemic, the award-winning venue was welcoming more than two million visitors a year and staging over 400 concerts.

It also stages around 10,000 music workshops and classes, and serves as a major employer within the North East's cultural hub.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the money from the Government pot would help "protect jobs right away":

“As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we're saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare's Globe to the Sheffield Crucible.

"These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are.

"This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away."

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House in London

The organisations awarded a share of the fund will all receive grants worth up to £3m.

Sage Gateshead was among the first round of organisations to receive money, with £75m of investment announced today.

The Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, added: “The Culture Recovery Fund has already helped hundreds of organisations, of all types and sizes, in villages, towns and cities across the country.

"It has provided a lifeline that will allow these organisations to continue to play an integral role in their communities and produce new artistic work that will entertain and inspire us all.

“This latest funding, which are the largest grants to date, will support some of the country’s most loved and admired cultural spaces – from great regional theatres and museums to historic venues in the capital – which are critical to the development of a new generation of talent and in providing work for freelance creatives.”

This announcement follows £334 million awarded earlier in the month to nearly 2,000 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England.

Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.