Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Sage Gateshead - Accessibility Review

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The Sage is one of Newcastle Quayside's iconic venues & I was lucky enough to attend a concert there last week. I have visited the Sage a number of times and I have to say it's one of the best venues for accessibility which is why I was eager to share with you this post.

 image by itison.com 

Getting there:
The Sage is across the river from Newcastle station, which although isn't the longest of walks does require you to tackle 2 pretty steep hills. If you are going to the Sage from Newcastle station, I'd recommend getting a taxi from the station if you have walking difficulties or a wheelchair. I, however, got a lift in and there is parking around the back if you have a blue badge (although it is not signposted very well, it is near the drop-off point). They are often full though when a concert is on so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to park.

Booking tickets:
You can book tickets online, on the phone, in person, via email and by post. They also have an access requirement register which means that once completed, you are on a list which will help with everything from selecting the correct seats to specific access requirements. You can find more info on this here including eligibility and how to apply. The Sage allow a free PA ticket once you are registered with this scheme so it's definitely worthwhile!

Toilets and changing facilities:
The Sage has 34 (award-winning... ooh!) disabled toilets on every level and includes a WC facility with tracking hoist, changing table & shower. The toilets are large and have plenty of manoeuvrability for electric wheelchairs, assistance dogs and carers.

The venue:
The Sage is split into a number of halls but the main one's used are Sage One and Sage Two. Sage One accommodates 20 wheelchair spaces over all floor levels which means that there is a variety of seat prices available - something which rarely happens in many other venues. I personally love going in either a box which is slightly raised from the floor, or, the circle near the back where there is plenty of space for myself and my assistance dog. Sage 2 is smaller with 4 wheelchair spaces but can accommodate more if needed. The cafe at the Sage has a good range of food, which includes gluten-free options, but is often busy and has limited seating.

The staff:
The staff were the reason I wanted to blog about this venue. As per usual, Mum & I were running late but were escorted to our seats by 2 lovely men who introduced themselves and checked we were both ok. The bit which really got me was near the end of our concert the whole of the stalls got up on their feet to dance along to Michael Ball. I spotted a women in a wheelchair at the back get up and then get approached by a member of staff, my first thoughts were that it was going to be a health & safety problem as that's how it usually goes. But no. The member of staff recognised that even though she could stand up, standing for another 3/4 songs could cause her pain/payback and offered (then pushed) her to the very front of the stage where Michael Ball was singing. And honestly, I cried. It's what should happen but in over a decade being in a wheelchair I've never seen it happen, so thank you to all the staff for making it accessible to all. I must note too they were fantastic with my assistance dog, Spencer, by asking questions but respecting the fact he was working and I had such a smooth night I was over the moon.

Overall: A fantastically accessible venue with staff which are trained to a high standard in disability awareness. I wish they had a slightly wider range of music attending the Sage because of how easy this experience was for us, but, I'm glad I've had the opportunity to attend a number of concerts and talks hosted at the venue already.



Kate (and Spencer of course) x

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