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posted on: 29/3/2012 10:25:56

Gateshead Council has announced plans to build a new 3,000sqm exhibition, conference and entertainment space alongside music and arts centre The Sage Gateshead, which it claims will deliver a significant increase in events business into the North East England region.
The announcement comes more than a year after Discover NewcastleGateshead gave the industry a glimpse of plans for its new International Conference and Exhibition Centre, which proposed a standalone facility with 4,000sqm of flat floor exhibition space.
The new proposal appears to be a scaled down version of those original plans, which stalled last year after city developers decided against submitting their bid to the Regional Growth Fund. At the time, a spokesperson for development agency 1NG said it would look at alternative approaches to delivery.
Gateshead Council now plans to build a 3,000sqm exhibition hall on land currently used for car parking to the south of The Sage Gateshead. The £30m venue project has gained a crucial £10m in funding from the Arts Council England, subject to final confirmation.
The local authority claimed the venue could transform the region’s business tourist economy and deliver 75 additional conferences annually while also boosting large-scale music and entertainment events by up to 60 a year.
The success of the bid comes as the council oversees the £150m regeneration of central Gateshead, in partnership with Spenhill. Regeneration work is also taking place in the centres of Felling, Birtley and Blaydon.
“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 Council’s chief executive designate Jane Robinson said.
“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.”
The Sage Gateshead general director Anthony Sargent said the Arts Council vote of confidence was a key step forward in growing capacity for the world’s largest international conferences and events.
“This is very 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,” added chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative Sarah Stewart.
“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.”
If successful, Arts Council England regional director Alison Clark-Jenkins said the proposal will herald the next chapter of culture-led growth and increase the viability of The Sage Gateshead.
“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,” she added.
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