Following last July’s funding setback for a new International Convention and Exhibition Centre project on the banks of the River Tyne, the green light has been given for £10m of Arts Council England (ACE) funding to a new venue project. The new plans provide for an events centre to be built adjacent to the existing Sage centre.
The ACE funding success is set to trigger a search for the remainder of the investment necessary to complete the £30m plan.
The North East expects a major jobs boost and a venue capable of holding 3,000-plus .
The new venue will not be the bespoke ICEC hoped for by NewcastleGateshead authorities initially, but it will be capable of holding major music and cultural events as well as conferences and exhibitions.
Subject to final confirmation, ACE will release the £10m towards the project, its largest current contribution to a project outside of London.
It is estimated that over 75 additional conferences a year could be attracted to the region as a result of the new facilities. And, with a 3,000sqm exhibition hall, it is anticipated that the venue could transform the region’s business tourist economy.
The new facility is set to be built on land currently used for car parking to the South of The Sage Gateshead, which was once one of Gateshead’s first railway stations. Up to 60 more large-scale music and entertainment events could be delivered per year as a result of the new venue.
The success of the bid comes hot on the heels of Gateshead’s BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art hosting the most successful-ever Turner Prize and work being well underway on the £150m regeneration of central Gateshead, in partnership with Spenhill.
The Sage Gateshead will stage the prestigious final of BBC’s Young Musician competition in May.
Gateshead Council’s Chief Executive Designate, Jane Robinson, said: “Our ambitions to move the hugely successful regeneration of Gateshead Quays further forward are well known. This facility will be the keystone of the next big leap forward in our visitor economy.
“Gateshead’s reputation for arts and culture continues to grow and this is further evidence of how that success can reap major economic rewards for our region. With this venue will come hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of investment into our local economy. The significance of this announcement cannot be overestimated – this will open up a huge array of opportunities.”
Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England said: “The significance of the regeneration of NewcastleGateshead has been felt far beyond the region. If successful, this proposal will herald the next chapter of culture-led growth. This investment would further support NewcastleGateshead as a destination for businesses and education and we look forward to working closely with partners to realise this.”
Anthony Sargent, General Director of The Sage Gateshead said: “Ever since opening The Sage Gateshead in 2004 we’ve wanted the capacity to capture more of the world’s largest international conferences. This Arts Council vote of confidence in the project is a key step in that journey, and as we approach our 10th birthday we look forward very much to working closely with our Gateshead Council friends and colleagues to bring off a worthy addition to the already world-class facilities and programmes of The Sage Gateshead.”
Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative also welcome the “positive news” from Arts Council England “and a significant step forward in realising our ambitions to bring a major conference and exhibition centre to NewcastleGateshead.
“It will strengthen our ability to attract larger exhibitions and conferences from across the globe, with the meetings industry already contributing £277m to the local economy, supporting 6,200 jobs in NewcastleGateshead alone.”
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