Local arts venues provide support to community amid cost-of-living crisis

Written by on 10th January 2023

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.

As pressure from rapidly increasing energy costs mounts on the North East, two local arts venues are offering help to local people.

In collaboration with Gateshead Council, two new Warm Spaces are being offered at Sage Gateshead and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Gateshead Council have stated “We want to do more to help residents and put people and families at the heart of everything we do”. They also aim to tackle inequality to give everyone a fair chance.

Gateshead Council added: “We have created an online directory of places that are available to all of our residents across the public, private, health, and voluntary sectors so that anyone who is cold knows where they can go to get warm, stay warm and enjoy a little company and some hot refreshments.”

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art had previously been offering a space within their venue with ‘Pay as you feel’ beverages, general manager Anthony Venus, said: “We started offering the space as a free café where you could pay as you feel. As it was getting usage, we started offering a catering option where you could buy sandwiches and cakes, but we were still doing free coffees and teas. The drinks have been provided by Pumphrey’s, who have been a nice sponsor”.

Whilst discussing the cost-of-living crisis and what the local area has to offer, Venus explained that the pay as you feel café has recently become a Warm Space.

“Since we started advertising the Warm Space on our website, we have noticed an influx of people using it. I think a lot of people appreciate it. We’ve been getting feedback and comments about how the space has been used. A lot of people come here just to use the space but it’s also getting more people to visit the galleries too, which has been great.”

Free period products at Baltic Contemporary Centre for Arts

The space within Baltic is also offering free packs of sanitary products to those who are experiencing period poverty. Rainbow bags are next to donation points in the warm space so people can take a bag if they need one, no questions asked. Toilets are also stocked with sanitary products as well as fully stocked baby changing facilities.

The Sage Gateshead music venue has also joined the ‘Warm Spaces Charter’, which has been developed in collaboration with the Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission. The charter guarantees that everyone who visits a Warm Space will be welcomed.

Organisations who want to create a new Warm Space are being offered a grant and can receive support, such as training, to ensure their new space will be of sufficient quality. Sage and Baltic are both served by the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which supplies low-carbon heat and power to the district energy network across Gateshead town centre and the Gateshead Quays area.

Sage Gateshead is open Thursday to Sunday from 9:30am and 8:45pm on the weekend and closes at 6pm on non-performance nights. When there is a performance, the building will remain open until one hour after the performance ends, which is approximately 11:30pm. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm.

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