Sage Gateshead and London’s Royal Albert Hall announced on 17 March 2020 that the venues would close until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead, the leading arts venue in the North East of England, said:
‘In light of the most recent Government advice, Sage Gateshead will be closed to the public from today until further notice. The health and safety of audiences, musicians and staff at Sage Gateshead is our priority.
Suspension of activity has impact on committed and talented workforce
‘This means that upcoming concerts and classes (including concerts and education programmes delivered outside of the venue) will not take place until further notice. We hope that many will be rescheduled for future dates.
‘Alongside our loyal audiences, our staff and musicians are the lifeblood of Sage Gateshead – without them we wouldn’t exist. This suspension of activity will impact not only our audience but also our committed and talented workforce. We will work within the government guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our team and musicians during this difficult time.
‘Our musicians and staff, permanent and casual, are reliant on the income which we derive through ticket purchases. Without performances it is inevitable that we will become more reliant on donations to the charity. We would therefore like to ask you to consider donating the value of your tickets to the charity, Sage Gateshead, rather than requesting a credit note or refund.’
The statement from the Royal Albert Hall reads:
‘In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and following advice from government, we have taken the decision with a heavy heart to close the Royal Albert Hall from midday today, Tuesday 17 March, to the public until further notice.
‘The safety and security of our artists, audiences and staff is, ultimately, all that matters.
‘We’ve been here for the nation for almost 150 years in good times and bad. We exist to be open, to entertain, to inspire. Our doors are made to be open to the world and so it goes against everything in our nature to close them. But these aren’t normal times and we find ourselves in the unique situation where closing our doors is the best way to look after the world.
Hugely damaging, financially devastating
‘The consequences of these national actions are going to be hugely damaging. The Royal Albert Hall does not receive regular government support and is dependent on income related to events, which will not be happening. The lost income from closing the venue will be financially devastating. We invest millions of pounds every year just to look after our building, but our main costs are our staff, whose livelihoods are at stake. We have committed to pay our people through various closure scenarios, and any support you are able to give us would be enormously appreciated.’