Newcastle and Gateshead’s leading cultural venues are uniting to call on the public to return to in-person performances, exhibitions and events, following a drop in footfall since the pandemic. 

Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV) is a partnership of 10 organisations including Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Life Science Centre, Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. All are hosting a season of new exhibitions, performances and events this spring to welcome more people back. 

Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, explained:

We know that, due to the pandemic, people have missed having days out with family and friends, or taking time out for a visit to a concert or exhibition. These experiences are an important part of our lives and something we hope more people will now start to fully enjoy again.

NGCV has also launched a joint advertising campaign ‘Make Your Moment’, supported by Newcastle City Council via the European Structural and Investment Funds, and Gateshead Council, which will see posters appear on bus shelters in the region and throughout the Tyne and Wear Metro system, as well as a campaign website to signpost visitors to all the venues. 

“By joining forces in this way, we want to highlight the strength of the cultural sector in Newcastle and Gateshead, and what it offers – from science to storytelling and from blockbusters to ballet – to everyone who lives, works and visits here,” added Keith Merrin.   

The Make Your Moment campaign emphasises the range of cultural artforms and experiences that can be enjoyed in Newcastle Gateshead and invites people to ‘make their moment’ by enjoying visits to cultural venues again and sharing those special moments via social media or on postcards in the venues. 

Some NGCV venues have seen a reduction in visitors of around 50% compared with before COVID-19, with footfall at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ four Newcastle sites (Discovery Museum, the Laing Art Gallery, the Hatton Gallery and the Great North Museum: Hancock) 56% down between May and September 2021 compared with the equivalent pre-pandemic period.  

To encourage visitors to return, venues have planned a season of events including a new show by Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre who are back on stage after two years. A to Gen Z will give an insight into the dreams, fears, ideas, pet peeves of Generation Z. 

At the Laing Art Gallery, Liquid Light: Painting in Watercolours brings together paintings by JMW Turner, John Sell Cotman and Thomas Girtin, alongside 20th and 21st century artists, including many rarely-seen works.  

In Gateshead, the Shipley Art Gallery is taking bookings for its Family Art Festival which will take place in the Easter holidays, while BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is inviting people to step into an extraordinary, colourful world created by artist Ad Minoliti. Sage Gateshead’s summer season includes six concerts showcasing the very best of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s talents. They’ll be celebrating the Platinum Jubilee with coronation music through the ages, experiencing all Four Seasons in one evening, and taking a musical tour of Vienna. 

Co-Chairs of NGCV, Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead and Sarah Munro, Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art said:

While venues were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19, we continued our work online and were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and appetite for this. Now that venues have re-opened, with appropriate safety measures in place, we hope that people will want to enjoy live culture again with this brilliant programme of events we have planned for spring and summer. We have missed seeing everyone in person!

Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Public Health and Culture, said:

The arts and culture sector has really struggled as a result of the pandemic, and we know many organisations and venues are still finding it difficult to get back on their feet. 

Now that these venues have reopened and restrictions have been lifted, and with the necessary safety measures in place, we can all once again make the most of our city’s rich history, take in amazing performances and exhibitions, and experience more of what Newcastle and the wider region has to offer. 

We can still take precautions such as staying at home if we’re unwell, wearing a face covering in crowded spaces, and washing hands regularly, but we can do this while supporting our brilliant cultural sector.

Councillor Angela Douglas, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Gateshead Council said:  

We’re very proud of our cultural venues in Gateshead but sadly due to the pandemic they’ve been closed or have had limited in-person access over the last two years. Now is a great opportunity for people to start visiting these places again and is a fantastic way to spend time with family and friends. We know how powerful culture can be for our wellbeing so I’d encourage everyone to check out what’s on and plan a visit.

Find out about the campaign and links to all the venues at