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Our client, Sage Gateshead, is one of the North East’s arts venues that has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Playing such a pivotal role in North East culture, Sage Gateshead wanted to plan for safely opening their doors, as well as delivering a range of virtual events that would bring artists directly into audience homes.

Narrative have been working to support Sage Gateshead throughout the crisis to make sure they could continue to do what they do best.

The iconic music centre, which first opened in 2004, is renowned for wowing its audiences, developing artists and putting the North East on the map welcoming more than two million visitors every year. With the help of Narrative, Sage Gateshead has been able to map out their plans as we collectively navigate uncertain waters.

Moving performances online

As part of the collaboration, Narrative supported the venue with its newly introduced ‘Sage Live 2020’ series, which originally featured a series of live concerts as well as live streams. This included creating gig titles and overviews, as well as branded loading screens to appear during its series of virtual performances.

Chris Pescod, Creative Lead at Narrative, added: “Despite the tight turnaround from concept to final artwork, it has been very rewarding to be involved in such an important project for a well-loved local venue.

“It has been fantastic to be working alongside the team at Sage Gateshead again, to turn the project around and make it a success.”

Getting ready for re-opening

Narrative have also provided Sage Gateshead with a range of ‘Covid-secure’ collateral that has been applied around the building, helping to keep audiences, artists and the Sage Gateshead team safe when the venue reopened in October. This included a wide range of directional signage, posters – both printed and digital – floor and wall vinyls, seat wraps and sanitiser station designs. This was already in place when Sage Gateshead re-opened its doors to audiences in October. With the sudden change in lockdown restrictions, this now means that when guests and staff finally return to Sage Gateshead once again, they can remain safe and socially distanced.

Covid-19 and social distancing signage created for Sage Gateshead by Narrative for reopening

How our businesses are supporting each other

The building itself is a unique feature in Gateshead’s Quayside skyline, and was architecturally designed to improve the acoustics of live performances. Its 1,700-seater theatre, 450-seater performance hall and numerous rehearsal spaces had been empty since March, until socially-distanced live performances were allowed again last month. With new government guidelines in place from November, fans are instead logging in online to experience and share live performances hosted by the venue. Narrative supported to ensure that Sage Gateshead’s overarching brand and messaging was still very much a part of this new approach.

Joanna Taylor, Creative Delivery Director at Narrative, said: “Sage Gateshead are an extremely valued client of ours and we wanted to be able to help them as much as we could.

“As a creative agency ourselves, we have been saddened to see so many arts venues struggling. The arts are a vital part of our society and we’re proud to work with several clients in a range of different creative settings.

“With this in mind, alongside the collateral to support Sage Gateshead’s reopening, we were also able to provide the venue with additional work free of charge.”

Looking forward

While current lockdown restrictions mean that Sage Gateshead won’t be opening its doors to the public again just yet, they are fully poised for when the world returns. The virtual gigs have proven extremely popular, and still allow communities to come together through music, albeit from their own living rooms for now.

Sam Patterson, Marketing and Communications Manager at Sage Gateshead, said: “It’s been fantastic to work with Narrative again on our Sage Live 2020 series, on both the live streamed concert content and the safety collateral in the building. Our decision to go ahead with live performances was made after careful planning to ensure we could operate in a Covid-secure way and Narrative played a huge role in that.”

Find out more about Narrative and our work with Sage Gateshead, and many of the stories we’ve told for our other valued clients.  

For more information on Sage Gateshead and their upcoming online events, you can visit their website at

Image credits: Tynesight Photography

This post was created on 18th November 2020
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