The Sage Gateshead are delighted to announce Sting as a founding Patron of their ambitious £1.3 million project to transform the remaining railway arches behind the iconic venue into a hub of creative training for some of the region's most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.
An appeal to raise funds for The Arches project was launched at The Sage Gateshead's Annual General Meeting (TUES).
Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, Chair of The Sage Gateshead, said: "We are delighted to have been able to make this announcement at our AGM, which falls just days before our seventh birthday.
"Sting has always been a great friend to this organisation so for him to cement his support by becoming Patron of this hugely important project is a milestone for The Sage Gateshead and greatly appreciated by all the people connected to it."
Sting, who will return to the venue with his Back To Bass Tour in February, added: "Having grown up on Tyneside, I'm pleased to support this appeal for The Arches project and The Sage Gateshead's ongoing commitment to creating opportunities for today's young musicians and music lovers in the North East.''
The Sage Gateshead's Foundation Learning programme, which offers young people aged 16 to 18 the opportunity to develop their social and employability skills alongside a unique urban music training programme, is currently based in temporary buildings in the arches with additional sessions taking place in the Music Education Centre in the building. But the programme is currently operating at ten times the scale originally envisaged. The plan is to create a purpose-built training centre offering classroom, production, presentation and rehearsal spaces including a studio for urban street art projects.
Anthony Sargent, General Director at The Sage Gateshead, said: "The greater the region's economic challenges become, the more work we're doing with these young people – many of whom for a variety of reasons exist on the outer edges of society. With this exciting new redevelopment project we will be able to continue to help them rebuild their lives and learn musical and life skills that for many of them are transforming their employability and their life chances.
"The Arches offer a complementary series of spaces to those within the main building giving the young people a space which is 'theirs', where they feel comfortable and accepted, something which is crucial to successful working with these groups."
The plans are being developed by the architect Jason Flanagan who was primarily responsible for The Sage Gateshead building with Foster and Partners. He now runs his own architectural practice.