WHEN Abigail Pogson took over as Sage Gateshead boss, she knew exactly the environment she was heading into.

After all, it’s what attracted her to the job in the first place.

“I came to this role because I saw the incredible work that had gone on and the amazing cultural activity,” she said.

“I had been really impressed by that.”

Diversity, she reveals, was a draw.

A quick look at the venue’s January itinerary highlights her point, with a celebration of Bach alongside folk singing, various orchestral performances and the story of Simon and Garfunkel.

“There is such amazing eclecticism and scale across the programme here and a real commitment to education,” she said.

“That is really at the heart of things, getting young people to get involved in music.

“The thing that is probably most interesting about my role, which is also challenging and stimulating too, is that it is very varied.

“I can look around and see conferencing and know that later we will have the orchestra, while there is also the café, which is always full of people.”

Ms Pogson, who grew up in Driffield, East Yorkshire, took over from Anthony Sargent as Sage boss in 2015.

Having previously been chief executive at Spitalfields Music, known for running festivals and year-round learning programmes in London, her arrival provided a platform to continue building operations at the North-East venue, which opened in 2004.

Her ambitions are clear, and she also believes the impact of Sage Gateshead is now filtering across the region.

“What my role in the last couple of years has been about is setting the organisation on course for its second decade,” added Ms Pogson.

“That includes thinking about what we can do to develop the programme and one of the things that is really unique is how the programme covers so many different areas.

“We need to make sure that there is a really broad offer.

“The building is used in so much commercial material and is similar to the Angel, Baltic and Tyne Bridge in that.

“We can see that there is a lot more happening in Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Darlington now too.”

Five minutes with… Abigail Pogson

Favourite North-East building and why? Something completely different from Sage Gateshead - Dunstanburgh Castle. It draws you to it whichever direction you’re coming from on foot, is great for young imaginations and making up stories about castles, dragons and adventures, and there is great fish at the end of any return walk from it.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Strawberry, raspberry and vegetable picking on a farm in East Yorkshire in the summer holidays. I can’t remember how much I was paid.

What is the worst job you've had? I haven’t had a job I’ve really disliked, but I’ve had aspects of jobs. I never particularly enjoyed driving production vans overnight across Wales on tour, for example. But I loved the result of those drives, taking music to rural locations where live music wasn’t available every day or even every week.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? You’d be best placed coming over when someone else is in. I’ve had my disasters and I’m stronger on assembling than combining ingredients. If pushed I can usually do something with a decent piece of fish.

What would your superpower be? Two places at once – family/home and work. I love both and do each 100 per cent. There are moments when I’d love to be in both places, like lots of people, I’m sure.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? A piano, although it’s an upright and pretty battered (like my playing), so not very much.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? I’m very newsy – FT, Bloomberg, The Daily Mash, Prospect. I follow my partner too. It keeps me up-to-date on what he’s doing.

Favourite book? Slight diversion – Shakespeare’s plays. I’ve read through adapted versions with my children, which reminded me how extraordinary the language is and what vivid stories they are. If you want novels, I love David Mitchell’s writing.

When did you last cry? I can’t remember.

What is your greatest achievement? If there is one, anything I’ve done to support my family. I’m also quietly proud of a couple of the results of my matchmaking endeavours.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Listen hard, keep at it and give your full attention to what you’re doing in the moment. There will be a solution.

Favourite animal and why? Scotty dogs. They are compact but not flimsy, are straightforward black and white, so there’s no messing about with blended colours, and are surprisingly good at jumping over puddles.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? Too discreet for that.

What was the last band you saw live? The amazingly talented saxophonist Arun Ghosh and the Royal Northern Sinfonia playing music from the new Star Wars film.

Describe your perfect night in: Friends and family around the kitchen table, someone else cooking, lots of chatter and debate between generations.

In another life I would be... A fabulous tennis player.

Who would play you in a film of your life? I don’t really think it needs turning into a film.

What irritates you? Irritate would be too mild a word – inequality. We have so much to do, here in our region, in the UK, in the world. We urgently need new ways of thinking about and addressing this.

What's your secret talent? I have some form as a matchmaker.