Some will be sad it is not Sagey McSageface. Others will rue it not being called the Slug or the Armadillo. Instead the concert hall previously known as Sage will become the Glasshouse International Centre for Music.
Sage Gateshead is one of the UK’s leading music venues, which last month hosted the first Proms festival weekend outside London.
For 19 years it has been called Sage after a deal with its donor the Newcastle-based software company Sage. But the tech firm wants an arena and conference centre being built next door to be called the Sage in a £10m naming rights deal.
Abigail Pogson, the managing director of the music hall, said: “We agreed that we would change our name in order to maintain the distinction between ourselves as a charity and the Sage, which is part of a large multinational commercial entity.”
Over the past year there has been focus groups, internal workshops and a large consultation process. There were hundreds of possible names, said Pogson, but always there was the Glasshouse.
The elegantly undulating Foster and Partners-designed building has 630 panes of glass – “the cleaning bill is an interesting thing,” said Pogson – so it is obvious where the new name comes from.
The building is literally a glasshouse but the new name also plays on the idea of things growing inside it. The area was once home to an internationally important glassworks.
Pogson said the renaming process, which involved reaching out to ask people how important the Sage was to them, had been a positive one.
“The two big things people were talking about was that it really contributed to their wellbeing and that it was part of their identity. They talked about warmth and diversity and sense of community… we are a bit of a melting pot.”
The Sage Group gave £6m for the concert hall naming rights nearly two decades ago, money which is still there as an endowment.
The building is widely considered to be stunning and has, like the Angel of the North, become a calling card for the north-east of England. It is home to the Royal Northern Sinfonia, as well as a place for music of all genres, whether rock, pop, world or folk, and youth choirs rehearsing and toddlers shaking tambourines.
The Sage arena and conference centre complex is due to open in 2026 and, along with the Glasshouse, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and shops, bars and restaurants, it is hoped that stretch of the Tyne River will have a “mini-Southbank” feel to it.