Sage Gateshead, one of the North of England’s most celebrated cultural venues, has been forced to make 110 redundancies as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
A redundancy consultation began in early August to try to mitigate the £10 million loss Sage Gateshead faced as a consequence of the lockdown.
A charitable organisation, the management fought to prevent the lay-offs by launching a Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance fundraising campaign in early spring. Local stars Sting and Dame Margaret Barbour were patrons of the scheme, which raised over £300,000 in public donations to add to government support but it was insufficient to keep Sage going as the pandemic shutdown continued.
A spokesperson for Sage highlighted the plight of many such charitable arts venues. ‘Charities like Sage Gateshead, whose self-generated income outweighs public subsidy by five to one have seen the most immediate financial impact, exacerbated by the scale and duration of the pandemic.’
The delayed decisions about distribution of the government’s £1.57 billion arts recovery fund may offer light at the end of the tunnel for organisations such as Sage but there is still no news as to how the money will be shared.
The spokesperson said the decision to lose 110 staff members was a last resort. ‘Like many organisations across all sectors, Sage Gateshead has had to find ways of controlling the financial impact of the pandemic. This has involved some incredibly difficult decisions, this being the hardest of all. Each and every one of the Sage Gateshead team are highly skilled and dedicated, and it is with deep regret that 100 of our friends and colleagues will be leaving us.’