The Sage Gateshead is a really good example of a building and venue that has gone beyond basic compliance when it comes to accessibility, and that means it goes beyond building access. Well trained staff are comfortable with all customers and performers, and this is what makes it inclusive as well as accessible. Surrounding businesses are also involved and they benefit from the extra customers. As a result The Sage has won several awards including the Royal Institute of British Architects Inclusive Design Award in 2005 and the Business Tourism Excellence Gold Award at the VisitEngland 2018 Awards Ceremony. The video below uses the preparation and delivery of the MS Life conference in 2009 to explain their approach to inclusion. There are interviews with staff, outside event organisers, the PR company and the Hilton Hotel. The video was shot by a colleague of Chris Veitch, who will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Australian UD Conference in Brisbane.
Editor’s note: I attended a conference at The Sage in 2010. It is a truly amazing building. The design pays homage to the Newcastle shipyards that used to occupy the site. I was fortunate to capture the building at twilight when the roof dome blends into the sky and reveals the internal structures of balconies that make it look like ships at sea. Photos, Jane Bringolf.